Bogan, Poems Against Poetry

Louise Bogan

Slate’s National Poetry Month celebration.

By Robert Pinsky

Slate is celebrating Poetry Month while also observing the resistance to Poetry Month, with poems against poetry, or poems attacking some kind of poetry. Last week, we presented the Renaissance poet Ben Jonson’s “Fit of Rime Against Rime.” Here, from two poets born near the beginning of the 20th century, are two short, crisp poems full of bile.

First, Louise Bogan:


Come, drunks and drug-takers; come, perverts unnerved!
Receive the laurel, given, though late, on merit, to whom
and wherever deserved.

Parochial punks, trimmers, nice people, joiners true-blue,
Get the hell out of the way of the laurel. It is deathless
And it isn’t for you.

In a similar irritated tone, similarly full of bad feeling, and similarly a pleasure to read aloud, here is Stevie Smith:


Miss Snooks was really awfully nice
And never wrote a poem
That was not really awfully nice
And fitted to a woman,

She therefore made no enemies
And gave no sad surprises
But went on being awfully nice
And took a lot of prizes.

  • Louise Bogan
  • 20th Century
  • English
  • Epigrams
  • Joking
  • Poetry
  • Articles

Originally published in Slate, April 12, 2005.