Acrostic Epigrams: The Cause of, and Solution to, the Death of Political Verse
|Regular readers of the blog (hi, Mom!) know that we are in the midst of a longstanding campaign to resurrect dead forms of puffery and invective. Commendatory verse will set blurbs free, we believe, and you'll agree, if you read that last post and its comments. |
We also believe that commendatory verse's angry twin, the satirical epigram, is due for a comeback. As far as I can tell, there is approximately one (1) working, regularly published poet of ad hominem political attacks: that bard of the blue state anapest, Calvin Trillin. I guess there are some slam poets and politically engaged mcs who would also qualify, and perhaps Mother Goose has an in-house poetess who spends her days thinking up amusing rhymes for "Eagleburger"?, but let's just say for the sake of this post that Trillin is the last practioner of the metrical smack-down. And he's not even that funny.
You know who was funny? People in the seventeenth century. I've begun teaching my early modern women's writing course, and the first poem we read together was this one, by Rachel Speght.
Ha cha cha! Take that Swetnam! You have a filthie pen! And now everybody knows it! Seriously, there is no better way to start off a class on em women's writing than with an acrostic poem that tears a misogynist polemicist a new one. Of course, the rest of A Mouzel looks pretty conciliatory compared to this bit (Marriage is a merry-age... UNLESS SATHAN CREEPS INTO YOUR FILTHIE PEN!!), but you really get a sense for how a verse form that we usually associate with construction paper and magic markers can actually be used as a lead-tipped cultural whip.
You see, no doubt, where all this is leading…
D estroy all formes of life, thou demon spawne!
I nterr trew logick's spirit under lawne.
C ut down the honest critick in blind rage;
K eep bloodie doves imprison’d in a cage.
Ok. Someone else has to do the last name. I expect melodramatic bird imagery to be maintained as the primary vehicle. Extra points for fake Englisshinge of oure moderne tonge. Let's bring back the biting epigram! Together, people, we can do it.