Poem of the Month

The website containing "The English Magazine" appears to print a Poem of the Month - something that I applaud.

Something which I also applaud is the appearance this month of the poem "The Great Australian Adjective" by Australian poet W. T. Goodge. Unfortunately (and you knew that was coming, didn't you?), they've stuffed it up. The original poem reads as follows:

The sunburnt ---- stockman stood
And, in a dismal ---- mood,
   Apostrophized his ---- cuddy;
"The ---- nag's no ---- good,
He couldn't earn his ---- food -
   A regular ---- brumby,

And so on for another three verses. But now "The English Magazine has printed the poem with the "----" replaced everywhere by the word "bloody", and ruined it. Originally published in 1898, the excised word might well have been "bloody", which was generally considered too profane for magazine publication at that time. It doesn't matter, the point is that the humour of the poem is not dependent on the repeated use of one word, but on the fact that that word is repeatedly omitted. You, the reader, supply your own, whatever that may be.

The whole point of the thing is that the "----" is left to the reader's imagination. It's a wonderful device used in this way, mocking public and private perceptions of profanity. Printing a word to replace the "----" diminishes the poem to something rather boring and ineffectual.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 13, 2007 1:40 PM.

Clive James Essay was the previous entry in this blog.

Weekend Round-Up 2007 #4 is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Monthly Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.23-en