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Where Not to Send Poems or Blank Verse*

From the July 1884 Sword and Trowel


BLANK VERSE was first written in the modern languages in 1508, by Trissine." We do not know the gentleman, and do not wish to make his acquaintance. He lived a very long time ago, and it might have been as well had he never lived at all. We have seen a vast deal of very blank verse in our time, and feel no kind of gratitude to its inventor for having brought upon us this infliction. Oh, poetic brother, do try your hand at prose! You will be prosy enough then; but now you string together your long lines of nonsense, with such an absence of all thought, that you are altogether unbearable. We once saw an advertisement of a sermon in blank verse: we did not go to hear it, and the good man is since dead. We believe his discourse was dead long before. He has not sold the good-will of the poetical discourse business, and so there is no successor in the blank-verse-sermon line. Quite as well! Pulpits are dull enough without this last ounce of aggravation.
    Milton and Thomson, Young and Cowper, we can all rejoice in; but your ordinary imitator of these sweet singers is blank as blankness itself. When the dear man feels that he must cover reams of paper with his effervescences, we have not the remotest objection to his doing so: it may be good for the paper-trade and good for himself; BUT, with the utmost vehemence of our outraged nature, we entreat him not to send his manuscripts to us, that we may pass our opinion upon them, and introduce them to a publisher. This is one of our afflictions, and by no means a light one. The quantity of time it takes to answer poets we dare not attempt to calculate. Moreover, there is the solemn responsibility of having such jewels to take care of. We do not feet worthy to have the charge of such priceless treasures. Burglars might run off with them, rats might eat them, our Mary might either sell them to the waste-paper man, or they might even drop into


Trash bin


* Blank verse is poetry consisting of unrhymed lines, usually in iambic pentameter.

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