I try to stay away from literary generalisations (e.g. ‘sarcasm is the lowest form of humour’ – obviously untrue.)
However, I think it can safely be said that rhyming couplets are the most embarrassing form of poetry. Sure, Chaucer was good at them, but then he also possessed the unique talent of creating a literarily significant epic about a horseride.
HOW MORTIFYING, then, to discover that not only entire newspaper columns, but also letters to the editor, are routinely written in rhyming couplets in Austria. Even about serious stuff.
I have tried to keep the original cringeworthy spirit alive in the following free and hasty translation:
Who likes to torture animals?
Recently, we heard, oh woe, just wait,
someone likes to lay out bait,
to hurt the dogs and leave them slain,
sometimes after awful pain.
Whether poisoned meat or nail traps
packed in sausage, laid out flat,
hidden and put out for free,
so that dogs die horribly.
You cannot but help wondering
who would do such awful things?
How sick is someone who can’t wait
to see an animal trapped by bait
what’s gone wrong inside their head?
they can only be braindead.
Someone who thinks torturing animals is right
how on earth do they sleep at night?
A moving plea, I’m sure you will agree.
Also, if you have ever wondered whether the world would be a better place, were letters to the editor to be written in rhyming couplets, please let me set your mind at ease. By answering in no uncertain terms: negative, ghostrider.
I present, as evidence for the defence, Wofgang Schwungfeld’s contribution on ‘banks and the financial crisis’.
I cannot bring myself to translate it, however it does manage to include a line about managers laughing over their bonuses, whilst the workers slave away. Literary gold, obviously.
This week I’m going to keep an eye out for freshly minted poetry on, say, the Air France crash, or Obama’s address to the Arab world. Stay tuned.