Who said poetry was a good thing?

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The Independent Online

Today is National Poetry Day, But before you skip

And shout hurray,

Remember it's easy

For you to cheer

If poetry comes

One day a year -

It's very hard

To cheer and shout

If every day

You churn it out!

Once there was

A man called John,

Who could really turn

The poetry on,

And so they signed

Him up to write

Reams of the stuff

By day and night.

Now see him slumped

Across his desk

In weary atti-

Tude grotesque.

Hear him groan

And raise his pen,

And see him drop

The pen again.

How could he possibly

Finish this verse

When every line

Made him feel much worse?

For this young man,

I regret to say,

Was not a poet

For just one day.

No - every day

He slaved so hard

To churn out rhymes

For greeting cards!

His job it was

To bill and coo

And write: "This Special

Day's for you !"

Or: "Mother dear,

For all the years

When you have wiped

Away our tears!"

Yes, that was another

One he'd penned.

Oh God! Where would

It ever end?

Cards for brothers,

And wives and sons,

And golfers and veg-


He even issued

Hospital verses

("Thanks for being

Such great nurses!")

Or lines designed

To celebrate

Last week's birthday

("Sorry I'm late!")

And all he ever

Wished to do

Was state the opposite

Point of view.

How he longed to

Write instead:

"Father, I hope

You'll soon be dead"

Or, "Mother, you never

Cared for us

- Go out and walk

Beneath a bus!"

No more saccharine

Not one joke,

Just: "Happy Birthday.

I hope you choke."

And his hospital card

Would really say:

"Get ill soon -

And stay that way!"

Poor John! Who once

Was young and gay

(In a cheerful, not

A sexual way),

Who loved to mix

With other folk,

And drink, and sing,

And crack a joke,

Beneath the weight

Of writing verse

Grew cantank-

Erous and worse.

The strain of writing

Loving rhyme

Finally got to

Him in time.

His heart at last

Refused to melt

The more he wrote,

The less he felt.

And finally

He gave up hope

And turned into

A misanthrope.

So when you next

Praise poetry,

And the good it can do

For humanity,

Remember John,

Whose life was wrecked

By poetry's daily

Poisonous effect.