The Cringe

Being a treatise and brief history in epic couplets depicting and explaining how a foul usurper and rebel conspired with worthless forms of verse to overthrow a peaceful and prosperous poetic kingdom, thereby bringing in a dark age of dull free verse and resulting poetic poverty.

Oh CRINGE pernicious, thou the poets’ bane,
Foul blight, to thus turn lyric verse insane;
When would-be poets obfuscate with words
Until their silly screeds out-twitter birds.
Rambling on, imprisoned in free verse,
Poetic insult worsens still, to curse
One’s soul with cryptic milquetoast scribbled lines
In which nonsense eclipses God’s designs…

The CRINGE began with Eliot and his ilk
Poetic cream exchanged for sour milk;
Coherence then was sacrificed to form;
Blathering incoherence: the new norm.
Such clowns as Pound and Williams made it worse
With dull obscure pedantic cringey verse:
Petals on Black Boughs, with Red Wheelbarrows
(like trying to shoot poetry with toy arrows).
This tripe was on poor English students forced
Until delight from poetry divorced.
The second wife, more pushy than the ex—
Usurped the rightful powers of the rex
And vowed to bring all poetry to cringe
On a dull free-verse confessional binge.

To celebrate neurosis now the goal,
The CRINGE began to burrow, like a mole
Within the universities and schools
Transforming MA candidates to fools.

And still the foe ascended, sly with stealth
(as publishers cashed in on dubious wealth),
ascended to where poets scrawl and whine:
and fawn upon each incoherent line.

Plathetic Sylvia, moaning out her woes
And dumbing down real verse to broken prose.
Bishop, Berryman, Wallace Stevens, all
Raised foul CRINGE where Poetry took a fall.
And now the way was paved for further trash,
(Cause for many a muses’ teeth to gnash):
Language Poetry, Imagism, dreck
The queens and jacks now rose to take the deck—
CRINGE crowned itself the king and stole the throne
To claim poetic laurels for its own.

Tis’ all in vain: the kingdom and the crown
Combust in mediocrity. A frown
Where once the Muse’s lyric smile had been…
Now race-complainers dominate the scene.
LO! Feminism screeches to the choir
As chapbooks burn in temples set on fire.
Coherence staggers, bleeds and sighs its last
Yet no one mourns the loss. And now the past
Recedes as verse is buried in mass graves
And poetry retreats to hills and caves
To wait it out and laugh at all the clowns:
And mock at their esthetic ups and downs;
At nuts who cannot figure out their sex
At Marxist dolts who only write to vex
And agitate for change (and larger checks).
See readers snore before the flaming mess
Bored to sleep, all, while playing lyric chess.
Thy shame, great CRINGE, has conquered all in sight—
And none excels in dullness, nor in might.

PROMPT #26: write a poem that contains at least one of a different kind of simile – an epic simile. Also known as Homeric similes, these are basically extended similes that develop over multiple lines.




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