Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Humorous Poetry of the English Language

James Parton - The Humorous Poetry of the English Language: From Chacuer to Saxe (1856)

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I should note that "humorous" doesn't mean "funny" even allowing for changes in taste.  Actually after reading parts this is really more an anthology of light verse if such distinctions have any meaning for you.  The editor (who was predominantly a biographer) divides the book, like most editors do, into sections devoted to satire, parody, epigrams, narrative and even "Eccentric and Nondescript".  Many of the poets aren't well remembered today so the brief info in the Catalogue of Sources is helpful; in fact based as it is on anecdotes it's well worth flipping through.  That's where you'll learn that William Aytoun was a "Professor of Polite Literature" which sounds like its own parody.