, , ,

Hello, this is Frank Hubeny. The topic is irony. Victoria Slotto covered this some years ago. See this link for her perspective on it with many examples of how irony can be used in poetry: https://dversepoets.com/2013/04/04/just-say-what-you-dont-mean-irony/

I’ll offer another illustration of irony. Here is a reading of Oliver Goldsmith’s “An Elegy on the Death of a Mad Dog” with the text of the poem in the video:

One of the delightful features of irony is that everyone can enjoy such a poem even those who don’t get the ironical interpretation. One can enjoy Goldsmith’s poem as the tale of a man so good that when a mad dog bit him, the dog died. Or, one can enjoy the poem as the tale of a man so “good” that when a good dog bit him, the poor dog died. Either way works.

The force of Goldsmith’s irony comes not from misunderstanding the poem. There is nothing cryptic or hidden in the poem. Everyone understands it even on first reading. The ambiguity is right on the surface for different people to understand the poem differently.

Ambiguity is powerful, but it is also not enough for some poets. They hold strong positions on some topics, perhaps rightfully so, and they want to make sure the reader hears that position. That often leads to something called sarcasm. With sarcasm there is no longer that ambiguity that makes irony powerful.

The challenge is to write an ironical poem on whatever topic you desire and using any style. May the force of ambiguity be with you.

To help get you started, since the theme is open, if you enjoy humor, it is hard not to be ironical. Twist one of those delightful jokes into a poem. If you enjoy agonizing over the antics of a favorite political character or worry about how the world will end, you already have plenty of material for an ironical poem. I think mine will be on ways to handle an impending market crash. There just has to be some understandable ambiguity to pull this off.

We can also discuss possible themes in the comments section below.

Here are the procedures:

  • Write your ironical poem and post it to your blog.
  • Reference this dVerse post.
  • Add the link to your blog post in the Mister Linky below.
  • Leave a comment here. We can discuss irony, what works; what doesn’t. You may know other examples of ironical poetry like the Goldsmith example above.
  • Read and comment on other people who have linked their poems. It is useful to see how others have responded to the challenge and, when you do so, you get to know them better.

I am looking forward to reading your poems.