“The Humorous Poetry of the English Language” edited by James Parto is a collection of short humorous poems from the literature of England and the United States. The book aims to showcase the best of humorous poetry, with a particular emphasis on works that can still be enjoy by a modern American audience.
The Selection Process
Parton explains in the preface that he excluded poems. That were too local or contemporary in subject matter. Those that were too vulgar or offensive to be read aloud in mixed company. Those that were overly familiar from their constant reproduction in school-books and newspapers. He also chose not to include poems by living American authors. Who had already collected and published their own humorous pieces. This selection process allows the reader to experience a wide range of humorous poetry from both sides of the Atlantic. While also ensuring that the poems are accessible and appropriate for a modern audience.
The book contains a diverse collection of poems, ranging from the lighthearted and silly to the satirical and ironic. Some of the most well-known English poets are represent, including John Keats, Lord Byron, and William Makepeace Thackeray. However, the book also includes lesser-known poets such as Thomas Hood and Richard Harris Barham. Who are just as deserving of recognition for their contributions to humorous poetry.
American poets are also well-represent in the collection. With works by Oliver Wendell Holmes, James Russell Lowell, and John Godfrey Saxe among others. Parton’s decision to include American poets alongside their English counterparts highlights the rich tradition of humorous poetry in the United States. Which is often overlook in discussions of English-language literature.
One of the standout poems in the collection is “The Yarn of the ‘Nancy Bell'” by W. S. Gilbert, which tells the story of a shipwrecked crew who resort to cannibalism in order to survive. The poem is darkly humorous and satirical, poking fun at the Victorian obsession with cannibalism as a literary trope.
Another memorable poem is “The Owl and the Pussy-cat” by Edward Lear, which is a whimsical and nonsensical tale of two unlikely companions who set out to sea in a pea-green boat. The poem’s playful language and memorable imagery have made it a beloved classic of children’s literature.
Other notable poems in the collection include “The Broomstick Train. Or, The Return of the Witches” by Oliver Wendell Holmes. “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” by Robert Browning, and “The Walrus and the Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll. These poems showcase the wide range of styles and subject matter. That can be found in humorous poetry, from the absurd to the satirical.
“The Humorous Poetry of the English Language” is an excellent collection of humorous poetry. That will delight readers of all ages. Parton’s careful selection process ensures that the poems are accessible and appropriate for a modern audience. While also showcasing the best of humorous poetry from both sides of the Atlantic. Whether you are a fan of classic English literature. Or looking to discover the rich tradition of humorous poetry in the United States. This book is an essential addition to any collection.