Ann Drysdale - The Case for Light Verse

For John Whitworth

Beside the epic, with its long tradition
Of mythic reference and erudition,
Darling of bards po-faced and reverential,
Light verse seems horribly inconsequential.
There is no literary substance to it,
No lasting value; any fool can do it.
Take up the burden that distorts your soul,
Crack it and tip it out into a bowl;
Discard the yolk and then with merry vigour
Whip up the white and add a bit of sugar.
This is a recipe that can’t go wrong;
A little biscuit melting on the tongue,
Tickling the idiot’s fancy like a feather
Making him laugh and clamour for another.
No one expects us amiable asses
To seek to reach the peak of Mount Parnassus,
Therefore, dear heart, let us write fast and louche
And give the common man his amuse-bouche.
Write light. Let rip with a poetic fart.
That way they may conclude we have no heart
But those who really matter will know better.