Thursday, April 22, 2021

Humor/Cleverness in Poetry

Today's poetry post is about humor (or cleverness) in poetry. I thought it would be easy to choose a humorous poem that I really liked, but that presented some problems. Many of them were limericks, and while that is a valid form of poetry, they just seemed mediocre to me. So my choices today are definitely more clever than humorous. And because I was having trouble narrowing them down, you get two poems for the price of one today. 

“Forsythia" (1966) Mary Ellen Solt
You can read more about the poet here.

The first one is an example of visual or concrete poetry. This is defined as "an arrangement of linguistic elements in which the typographical effect is more important in conveying meaning than verbal significance. It is sometimes referred to as visual poetry, a term that has now developed a distinct meaning of its own. Concrete poetry relates more to the visual than to the verbal arts although there is a considerable overlap in the kind of product to which it refers. Historically, however, concrete poetry has developed from a long tradition of shaped or patterned poems in which the words are arranged in such a way as to depict their subject." That's a fairly dull and dry definition from wikipedia, but I was taken by this poem, thought it could be called clever, and it's certainly fitting for spring.

This next one intrigued me for several reasons. It's a mathematical expression, a limerick, and it's by Leigh Mercer. He is the British mathematician who wrote the famous palindrome, "a man, a plan, a canal—Panama!” First the mathematical expression:

((12 + 144 + 20) + (3 × √4)) ÷ 7 + 5 × 11 = 9² + 0

And here is the same thing stated in limerick form:

A dozen, a gross, and a score,
Plus 3 times the square root of 4,
Divided by 7,
Plus 5 times 11,
Is 9 squared, and not a bit more.

Clever, indeed! 

Be sure to visit Kym, Katand Sarah today to read their funny and/or clever poems and join us next week for Poem in Your Pocket Day!


  1. These are so fun! The Forsythia poem is eye-catching and certainly FEELS like spring, hope, and action, doesn't it?

    And the math poem - it makes me want to buckle my shoes and pick up my backpack to go to school. I'm so glad there was a written limerick to help me through it, because I would have never figured it out on my own!!

    Thanks for putting these posts together each week - I'm loving it :)

    1. Thank you, Katie! I'm so glad you're enjoying poetry this month! :-)

  2. These are wonderful! I am glad there is a limerick to go with the equation, because while I can read the equation just fine, I would not have understood it as well without the explanation.

  3. I just LOVE these, Bonny! Clever, clever, clever!
    (And wait till I show that equation/limerick to Tom. He's gonna love it!)

  4. I think visual poetry requires a definite talent, and these are fascinating, Bonny! Thanks for sharing them.

  5. Bonny! These are SO FUN!! I love them both, but especially the mathmatical one. Both are extremely clever.

  6. Now that mathy one is fantastic! I wish I was clever enough to write something like that.

  7. People never cease to amaze me. Thanks for the fun today Bonny!

  8. Wow, Visual or Concrete poetry is completely new to me (thank you!) Forsythia is my favorite - I had to study the image a bit to see the words along the bottom - Hope Insists Action!

  9. Very clever indeed. Visual poetry is new to me also. It is very beautiful. I love it when an artist combines two different mediums.

  10. LOVE!! That Forsythia poem... so beautiful! (I want it stitched to hang on my wall!)

    But that limerick! LOL Oh my goodness! Brilliant!


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