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The Worst Lines of Verse
For a start, we can rule out James Grainger's promising line:
"Come, muse, let us sing of rats."
Grainger (1721-67) did not have the courage of his convictions and deleted
these words on discovering that his listeners dissolved into spontaneous
laughter the instant they were read out.
No such reluctance afflicted Adam Lindsay Gordon (1833-70) who was
inspired by the subject of war.
"Flash! flash! bang! bang! and we blazed away,
And the grey roof reddened and rang;
Flash! flash! and I felt his bullet flay
The tip of my ear. Flash! bang!"
By contrast, Cheshire cheese provoked John Armstrong (1709-79):
"... that which Cestria sends, tenacious paste of solid milk..."
While John Bidlake was guided by a compassion for vegetables:
"The sluggard carrot sleeps his day in bed,
The crippled pea alone that cannot stand."
George Crabbe (1754-1832) wrote:
"And I was ask'd and authorized to go
To seek the firm of Clutterbuck and Co."
William Balmford explored the possibilities of religious verse:
"So 'tis with Christians, Nature being weak
While in this world, are liable to leak."
And William Wordsworth showed that he could do it if he really tried when
describing a pond:
"I've measured it from side to side;
Tis three feet long and two feet wide."
-- Stephen Pile, "The Book of Heroic Failures"