Lovers & Rags

Pretentious Poetry

Posted in Uncategorized by Michelle on September 15, 2009

I was re-reading Lewis Carroll’s poem Jabberwocky from through Through the Looking Glass because I still don’t understand it. Apparently it uses “portmanteau” or the combination of different words to create one word in spelling. That one word also carries, in combination, the meanings of those words.

“Jabberwocky” starts off like this:

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

Wabe as a portmanteau means:

Wabe – The grass plot around a sundial. It is called a “wabe” because it goes a long wabefore it, and a long wabehind it, and a long wabeyond it on each side. (Wikipedia)

I couldn’t understand much of what was meant by “Jabberwocky,” so I researched it on Wikipedia. Interestingly enough, they say that,

“Jabberwocky” was meant by Carroll as a parody designed to show how not to write a [pretentious] poem…. The original purpose of “Jabberwocky” was to satirize pretentious poetry and ignorant literary critics.

* * * * * * * * * * * *

After reading this… I ask, what is pretentious poetry, exactly? I googled “pretentious poetry” and found this article from Poe War – Writer’s Resource Center:

7 Easy Steps to a More Pretentious Poem by J.C. Hewitt

Need help annoying the hell out of your writer’s group? The best way is to learn how to write a pretentious poem. This lesson works best with an example, so let’s start with one of the simplest and most well known poems of all time.

Roses are red,
Violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
And so are you.

This a simple poem. It is short, sweet and lacks pretension. Let’s fix it.

Step One: Add old time words nobody uses in real life

Roses doth be red,
Err violets are blue,
Sugar is sweet,
Thus so art thou.

Step Two: Add complex terms for simple words

Grandifloras doth be damask,
Err viola are azurite,
Sugar is ambrosial,
Thus so art thou.

Step Three: Add some foreign words and italicize them

Grandifloras doth be damask,
Err Viola are azurite,
Tener azucar ambrosial,
Thus so art thou.

Step Four: Add something technological so people realize you’re living in a new age

Grandifloras doth be damask,
Err Viola ping azurite,
Tener azucar ambrosial,
Thus thou art interfaced.

Step Five: Add some other modern stuff such as abbreviations and slang

OMG Grandifloras doth B damask,
Err Viola ping azurite,
Tener azucar ambrosial,
Thus thou RT interfaced sandwich girl.

Step Six: Mix up the line endings

OMG Grandifloras
Doth B
Damask, err
Viola ping
Azurite, tener azucar
Ambrosial,
Thus
Thou
RT interfaced
Sandwich girl.

Step Seven: Take out the punctuation

OMG Grandifloras
Doth B
Damask err
Viola ping
Azurite tener azucar
Ambrosial
Thus
Thou
RT interfaced
Sandwich girl

There you go. One gloriously pretentious poem in seven easy steps.

_________

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