Morbid poetry

Little Willie

A number of anonymous "Little Willie" poems appeared in a collection of American poetry I read in my formative years. Unfortunately, I no longer own the book and have forgotten its title. If I remember correctly, the commentary in the book said that Little Willie poems such as these two (the only ones I can recall) were very popular in the 1950's at some Ivy League university.

 Willie and two other brats
 Licked up all the Rough-On-Rats.
 Father said, when Mother cried,
 "Don't worry, dear, they'll die outside."
 Willie poisoned father's tea.
 Father died in agony.
 Mother was extremely vexed --
 "Really, Will," she said, "what next?"

The following were contributed by others...

From Lucy Elizabeth Lynch:

 In the family drinking well
 Willie pushed his sister Nell
 There she's yet because it kilt her
 Now we have to buy a filter.

 Willie with a thirst for gore
 Nailed his sister to the door.
 Mother said with humor quaint,
 "Willie dear, don't scratch the paint."

From Cathy Snider:

 Little Willie, on the track,
 Didn't hear the engine squeal.
 Now the engine's coming back,
 Scraping Willie off the wheel.

Edward Gorey

The Master of Morbid Verse is, in my opinion, Edward Gorey, some of whose dark and eerily absurd illustrations are used for the titles of PBS's "Mystrey!" series. The following is a snippet from "The Listing Attic", part of the "Amphigorey" collection. ("O rage! O de'sespoir!" reads the frontispiece.)

 A headstrong young woman in Ealing
 Threw her two weeks' old child at the ceiling;
   When quizzed why she did,
   She replied, "To be rid
 Of a strange, overpowering feeling."

My limericks

These are some of the limericks I've written, plus a couple of non-limericks in the same vein.

Copyright (c) 1993-1997 Paul M. Hoffman.

 That murderous cad, Uncle Andrew,
 Achieved even more than he'd planned to:
   His bomb killed some dozens
   Of peevish young cousins,
 And picked off a visiting aunt, too.

 Marie, on the brink of disaster,
 Went off to speak with her pastor;
   She feared what he'd think
   Of her troubles with drink,
 But lucky for her he was plastered.

 Aunt Fay on her birthday was peeved
 By the number of us who believed
   She was just ninety-one --
   "You're unbearably dumb,"
 She exclaimed, "and so easily deceived!"

 The incident at the gazebo
 Has left my hair brimming with Play-Doh,
   My ears full of honey,
   My eyes feeling funny;
 I feel I've been through a tornado.

 Milly pushed her brother Ned
   Headlong into traffic;
 Once the peevish brat was dead
   It seemed a little drastic.

 A cardinal travelling in Cheshire
 Was under a great deal of pressure
   When faced with temptation
   -- To whit, fornication --
 And feared he required a refresher.

 An infamous Methodist minister
 Whose sermons inclined to the sinister
   Was wont to abuse
   His poor flock in their pews
 Save his wife, who just laughed when he menaced her.

 In a fit of unusual dolor,
 Young Percival leapt from his stroller.
   He ran off unheeded;
   His nursemaid proceeded
 To giggle, and none could console her.

 Aunt Mabel's most recent adultery
 With a sinewy lad of the butlery
   Was not a success,
   I have heard her confess,
 And has lost her a great deal of cutlery.

 A vicar once known for high morals
 Chose unwisely to rest on his laurels --
   When put to the test
   At the devil's behest
 He'd have failed, were it not for the orals.

 Willy ran to catch a ball,
   Tripped and took a nasty fall.
 His classmates thought it quite amusing
   To see the way his blood was oozing.

 Young Lucy was sorely bedevilled
 By the ranks of fine lads as they revelled;
   The first one she could
   She led into the wood
 -- They returned after dawn all dishevelled.  

 Not blessed with a sweet disposition,
 Young Alex seemed doomed to perdition,
   Till one day by chance
   His priest's furtive glance
 Gave rise to an act of contrition.

 In all things a rapid beginner,
 Young Fay soon excelled as a sinner;
   When tired, at nine,
   Of cocaine and fine wine,
 She switched to cigars and paint thinner.

 Yes, life is a bit enigmatic,
 And happiness not automatic,
   But murder--of course,
   With a smidgeon of force--
 May be neatly performed in the attic.

 Maria was known to be clever
 With Weltschmerz and Angst, but she never
   Could quite get the hang
   Of that old Sturm und Drang,
 No matter how hard she endeavored.

 In place of a nail on each finger,
 Aunt Abigail bore a sharp stinger;
   Her venom, though weak,
   Enthralled for a week
 An unwary Albanian folk singer.

 Frail Meg on her birthday delighted
 In calling up friends she'd invited
   -- To each she'd exclaim,
   "I shall not bear the blame
 If your gift makes me overexcited!"

 When appalled by the state you are in,
 Don't fall into despair or give in --
   To become once more frisky,
   Sit back with a whiskey
 And when finished proceed to the gin.

 Despite her poor looks and dull wit,
 Aunt Helena made quite a hit
   At last evening's soirée
   With Monsieur de Barray,
 Who had drunk more than he would admit.

 A southern belle known for wry sentences,
 Whose humor was darker than Clinton's is,
   Was heard to exclaim
   When the Orkin man came,
 "Does anyone know wheah the kittens is?"

 An antichrist known as Carruthers
 Waxed bitter when speaking of mothers --
   "When that six sixty-six
   Puts the world in a fix
 They shall go straight to hell with the others!"

 If charging clowns leads you to boredom
 And matadors gripe when you gore them
   Consider a change --
   Try life on the range!
 -- And if cowboys show up, just ignore them.

The following are all unfinished. Let me know if you can come up with words to fill the blanks.

 When lacking a pistol to shoot with,
 That murderous Colonel Beckwith
   Was known to make bold
   And adroitly grab hold
 Of the nearest -------- to ---- with.

 The youngest of seventeen daughters
 In a family laden with potters
   ----- - --- -----
   -- -------- - -----
 When asked by an aunt where she'd got hers.

 O heavenly Beethoven symphonies
 Whose skilfully utilized tympanies
   Can ---- -- -----
   Or ------ - ------,
 When -------ing a ----- with a pekingese!


The not-very-lyrical story of love cut tragically short...

Last modified Friday, April 23, 2004 at 20:41:03 GMT -0500