Sunday, July 4, 2010

Guy Wetmore Carryl -- Another Bad Joke Uncle

Louis Untermeyer calls Guy Wetmore Carryl "an extraordinary versifier," in the vein of Ogden Nash. And I have to agree with Untermeyer when he says Carryl can keep up a "battery of bristling rhymes, astounding puns, and topsy-turvy morals in the air at one time and in one poem."

And I'm jealous.

It's the kind of stuff I'd like to write. And it's not as easy as it seems -- nor is it as easy to recite, as many recitations on YouTube attest. This is one of the best recitations of his "The Sycophantic Fox and the Gullible Raven," obviously put there by someone trying to keep Carryl's poetry in the ears of modern listeners:

I've got a lot of respect for poets who can work unusual words like "Gotterdammerung" into their poems.

Still, there is a bit of the Bad Joke Uncle about Carryl's poems -- which is ultimately forgivable. The morals to which he arrives are the kinds of puns that can make any crowd groan. But at the same time, you're agreeing with what's said, and laughing at it. Thanks, Bad Joke Uncle.

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