Friday, 26 September 2014


This is a Hudibrastic poem. It's written after the style of W.S. Gilbert (1836-1911), who took the form that derived its name from the style of Samuel Butler's Hudibras (written in 1663-80) and made it his own.

Gilbert's 'I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General' is well known and its first four lines appear below:

“I am the very model of a modern Major-General,
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical,
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical”

Hudibrastic poems employ a mock-heroic verse structure and ostentatious rhymes. They're typically written in iambic tetrameter, with a rhyme scheme the same as that used in heroic verse (e.g., aa, bb, cc, dd, etc.). However, they use feminine rhyme, often implying inappropriate comparisons ( the better examples of Hudibrastic rhyme), for humorous effect. Traditionally, the form is used for satire.

I am the very image of a man whose seen poetical,
Who reckons almost every word in proper theoretical
Context as they're followed by his semi-colons, manly commas,
Stirring up those puns, old tropes and metaphors on Juan le Thomas.

Nothing that I ever write can be purely categorical,
Because it's fantasy, you see, or even allegorical
And it's obvious that I'm one of those you'd call enthusiastic
For what's known in songs and verse as Samuel Butler's Hudibrastic.

O, you must apply them strictly, for the rules are not elastic.
Though you practice rhyme in public, there's no church ecclesiastic
And it often really helps if some quasi-intellectual
Helps you with your reasoning, and your logic's dialectical.

It is, of course, an old verse form that's well-preserved, historical,
But that I think's no reason to be overly euphorical,
Get swept away on tides of joy, be overly demonstrable;
Beware the laws, they'll be enforced by Lexicon, my Constable.