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Poetry and the Human Condition: Humor.

Updated on May 26, 2011

Laughter is the best medicine they say.

Nothing like a good chuckle for brightening your day. Credit wolf-wolf flickr commons
Nothing like a good chuckle for brightening your day. Credit wolf-wolf flickr commons

Poetry has addressed all facets of the human condition.

Good poetry still finds its way into print these days. But seldom does great poetry become published any more.
There is a multitude of reasons for this, most of them are obvious.-, and I'll let you figure them out. One big reason is that there is little or no reward, apart from personal satisfaction, for the poet, or 'pote, as they are fondly called.
This was not always the case: poets of the 18th and 19th Century could sell their great works or publish them in the journals and papers of the day. Some became great friends to the high and mighty; others - like Byron and Browning - became almost worshipped for their pungent satire. Even more - like seedy Keats or the poor, doomed Shelley - for their unbeatable, searing lyricism and the list goes on.
Other great poets, like Shakespeare himself, undisputed master of the great sonnets, back in the 16th Century, combined all the elements of the human condition: philosophy, sex, drama, love, war, pain and loss, until his marvellous prose and poetry became writ in stone, as much changing the way humans think, as in merely entertaining them.
Some of the best poetry for me looks at the human condition with its humorous hat well in place. It lampoons sacred cows; makes us see the ridiculous side to what all too many Homo sapiens frown over. It does that huge favor to many just making it through another, wearying, boring day in a life which offers no escape and little surcease. Like finding a nugget on the pavement, they find a few words of verse which set them back on their heels, tears streaming down their face, and a huge belly-laugh catching them unawares.
The poet, perhaps writing many years ago: from his garret, or even a prison cell, his own short hairs erect and groin tingling, as he is caught by the truth and humor of the scene he describes, has indeed left us an image worth just as much as that gold nugget.
I am afraid I lack the power and literary sense to produce great humorous poetry like a few I could name. But here are a few light verses from "Charged Particles " which I hope you enjoy and crack a smile at the very least, as at least one of these embarrassing incidents will have happened to all.
As you scan the first piece, think to yourself, hey, this could easily be true.

The Gas that Saved the World!

They were gathered in the war-room,
Faces tense and grim.
He had his hand above a button;
All the others stared at him.

Then a voice came through the speaker:
"They've launched, they've launched," it cried,
That only gives us five short minutes,
Before we're incinerated; fried!

"That's it, dear friends, Amuricans,
Let's give the swine what for."
His hand descended to the button,
Stopped by a squishy roar!

"I beg your pardon," gushed the VP,
"It must have been those beans!"
The look the president gave him,
He'll remember in his dreams.

Just then another scream was heard:
"Hold it, hold your fire!"
It's not the Chinese ICBM's.
The damn computer's crossed a wire!"

So though they kept it from the public,
(The CIA had played their part).
There was this explosive moment,
The world was rescued by a fart!

Many of us have suffered that agonizing moment when we can’t hold back the smelly or noisy effluent of our digestive systems...like when we were in church!?

One-Man-’Banned.

With a dinosaur-like roar,
From my lungs the sneeze tore.
Up my throat and down my nose:
In the church the faithful froze.

Thank de Lawd I’m on my knees;
The Devil take that bloody sneeze!
Although I prayed and called His name,
With a blast another came!

How I fought that evil itch,
Until my nose began to twitch.
Strained and hoped; held my breath;
Cried and prayed for early death!

Just when I thought, deep inside,
I’d felt that awful itch subside.
There came a roar that broke my heart:
The devil won, he made me fart!

Well, that’s the atishoo and the fart covered. Another, perhaps lesser offence (unless you are real close Uggghhh!) is addressed in verse.

Life can be a Gas

So impatient to be free,
The burp had scant regard for me.
Though I sternly bid him “Nay!”
He left my stomach anyway.

Left my belly; up the spout:
The burp burst forth with joyful shout!
The whole distinguished company
Turned around to stare at me.

“Pardon” I smiled, with outward calm,
(But firm resolve to do him harm!)
Which I did directly, when -
I hiccoughed him in again!

So poems can be “funny” and understood immediately like those above. They can also combine clever (I hope) construction and produce an image in the reader’s mind so he/she thinks, “Hey, that’s right, it’s just like that!”

Getting close to a London Urinal.

Geometric curve reads
“Here to serve.”
Snowy finish
Twinkling
Musically
Tinkling.
Made to last of
Burnished brass.
Fat urinal,
You’ve got class!

Finally and with no offence intended to our Asian immigrants in the UK - rather, a compliment, comes a poem which laughs ruefully as “Third World” nations start to do what we do and want what we want. I am sure North Americans can apply the focus of the UK’s protagonists somewhere south? Some words US readers might not know are starred and explained.

The Indian Invasion!

Just to show it’s not a joke;
There’s life left in the great white hope,
Come and take a little ride -
After all, a white man’s pride?

There was a time, not long ago,
When Anglos wrote the books, you know.
An Indian chappie’s clam to fame,
Was flogging carpets down the ‘Lane *

Or duelling with his snicker-snee *
To become the prince of duty-free.
Not to write like Browning; Poe.
That’s reserved for us, you know.

Or so we though; the white man’s curse,
May yet be found in Parsee verse! *
Is this what Clive had battled for? *
As he languished down in Raipur? *

Did he conquer all in such a hurry,
To teach swart scribes who smell of curry?
We’ve accepted cricket; Vindaloo *
But writers? Just like me and you!?
Notes
Lane... Petticoat Lane Market London
Snicker-Snee... Knife
Parsee... Zorostrian tribe India
Clive...Clive of India who secured India for the British crown.
Raipur... Capital Chhattisgarth state India
Vindaloo... Curry dish Goa area India




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    • PADDYBOY60 profile image

      PADDYBOY60 4 years ago from Centreville Michigan

      Howdy Sir I really enjoyed the poems. Couple of them even tickled my feet. :)

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks, Josh, kind of a bummer, eh? Ha,ha,ha Bob

    • profile image

      Josh Most 6 years ago

      man i was so into this until the end. You're talk of the romantics and shakespeare got me excited and then your only examples of "great" poetry are poems about farting or other embarrassing emissions. i'm all for being crass but i'd think there's slightly more to "the human condition" than farting in church. also, there has been much great poetry written in the last century long after the rank of poet was a respectable class. look at george oppen, or emily dickenson. walt whitman surely changed the american literary culture and by proxy the entire culture and while he was never granted celebrity status in his time. this article is kind of a bummer now that i think about it.

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      I have passed through Delhi by plane some eyars ago, but only saw the airport.

      I would like to visit again, maybe next year as I am going to Mexico later this year for an extended period.

      Bob PS Here is my email bradstowe@hotmail.com Please write if you feel like it.

    • sonia05 profile image

      sonia05 6 years ago from india

      Hey Bob,nice to know that u have visited Bombay now called Mumbai but there are so many other places,small towns and villages which gives a real picture of India. I stay in Delhi,the capital of India. Please feel free to get in touch with me whenever you plan to visit India!India can offer you food for thought and also for your writings!!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Hello "Clumsy Queen" (loved that story). Yes, I have been to India, but many years ago and just what was then Bombay. I can't remember much, except the wall where the Parsees surrender their dead to the vultures...very practical I thought...Bob

    • sonia05 profile image

      sonia05 6 years ago from india

      Hey,this hub is simply amazing!!! I loved your poems! Have you been to India?

    • profile image

      diogenes 6 years ago

      Heck, now I remind ladies of their mothers! It must be the dying hormones.

      Well, I have two girlfriends of under 50 so I'm doing OK, they still smile now and again. Bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Exactly. I hope that by pinning me in my 30's, you didn't make the general impression that I'm an immature, spoiled, entitled, brat! There are still some of us in my generation who were raised properly, and turned into pretty decent folks. I got the last gentleman born after 1970 in my husband, that I can honestly assure you, though! ;-) My mother would have been 75 this year. I've grown to be a great deal like her. Your thought processes and comments remind me of her a bit.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Motown. It's strange how someone's age comes through from their writing. Not just details that date but the general tone...Bob

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Thanks SW. I fear these lovely old 'pissoirs are long gone in most places. I have always been amused by the thread of humor that runs through the toilet industry in their funny names for the receptacles.

      Thanks for visit and kind words...Bob

    • Spirit Whisperer profile image

      Xavier Nathan 6 years ago from Isle of Man

      This is really great stuff Bob. Getting close to a London urinal I found particularly clever and I loved the way you made taking a leak sound so musical. Voted up.

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      How funny, Bob...I'll be 36 at the end of this month. I was spot on.

      It's insane is it not? I think it's crazy as all get out. And, frankly, it makes me angry.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Funny you should say that, maven, I composed a small verse once called "Ben Gunn's Lament" about a man shipwrecked without any cheese and his overweening desire for some (LIke Treasure Island)

      MC...Well, I am 72 so you might be 31? But, yes, it's a strange world today. We have to accept nearly everyone n matter what their perversion...Bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      My God, Bob. I'd guess from the way you talk that I'm half your age...and it frustrates ME that you can't complain about what's truly disgusting anymore without hurting someone's feelings or risking being locked up for violating their "civil rights." Whatever.

    • maven101 profile image

      maven101 6 years ago from Northern Arizona

      The poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese. But the cutting of cheese has been brilliantly explored here...

      As an observation, I always make sure a dog is present when in the company of others...shameless blame...

      Punched all the adjectives and voted up...I can forego doing my ritual sit-ups this morning...the belly laughs are still providing tremors en mass...Thanks, Larry

    • diogenes profile image
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      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      G'day, Hanna. I was just thinking the same watching Eastenders last night and seeing two homosexuals kissing and cuddling and planning their "marriage." And it's not PC to complain about this disgusting crap. The old shows were great...Bob

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      You are right there is too little laugh about. two two decades ago and back to the fifties the TV was full with comedy and real comedy. Now it is full of sex or violence. If they do bring, a so called comedy, you got to tickle yourself to laugh. Especial the English humor was so fantastic. How can the next generation be so dull and horrible.

    • profile image

      Diogenes 6 years ago

      Motown and Genna: Thanks for visit and kind words. I am a bit stuck for what to write about these days so the poesy hubs make a good fill in...Bob

    • profile image

      Genna East 6 years ago

      Excellent hub, Dio; a spot of laughter went well with my morning coffee. Thank you! And Frost is one of the greats for exactly the same reasons you gave in your comment. Shakespeare (the genius of his century) understood human nature in ways that were almost eerie.

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      LMAO - Well, my hubby knows two things about me: A) I'm a good judge of character, so if I give you a hug, he can be assured you deserve one, and B) I'm a faithful girl! No worries on this end that he'll either chase you out the window or put a shotgun barrel to your chin! ;-) Are you in your dotage? How can I still be in my childhood?

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Getting hugged by a hubby would make a nice change from being chased out of the window by one! But that was a while ago.

      A poet said, if I remember the words, "The world is with us too early and too late." He may have meant that we embrace the simple, true things as a child and again in our dotage. It is certainly accurate in my case...Bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Well, if you ever have need to visit, come get a hug and a chuckle from me and my hubby! I definitely handle disappointment better now that I am an actual adult (rather than a novice adult like when I was in my twenties) but I am also a terminal optimist. I can't help it. Sometimes I wish I could. Sigh. :-)

    • diogenes profile image
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      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      I spent many years in the States. I have very good memories. But the world has changed and now we are older and not always wiser: but able to handle disappointment better. Thanks for the offer! bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Aww, Bob. I understand what you're feeling. That's really the case here too. I think we have to keep hoping. :) And just keep laughing. I understand that the world is pretty messed up these days. Come on over the pond my dear, and we'll love you up!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Just too many of us by a few billions now. I wish all nations would get together to colonize space somewhere, or the oceans...Life here is no longer enjoyable...Bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Same here, Bob (in the States). But that's okay. We'll make each other laugh and keep each other plugging along. Maybe one day, the rest of the world will laugh along with all of us and brighten up a bit! ;-) We can always hope!

    • diogenes profile image
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      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Ain't that the troof, Bobbi. We seem to be reaching a state where every other human is our enemy! There is so much scamming and pathological behaviour in the UK, you can't trust anyone or anything: no reason to laugh...Bob

    • BobbiRant profile image

      BobbiRant 6 years ago from New York

      Laughter is not around enough anymore. Thanks so much for the laugh. I loved this hub.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Cheers, Will. If I can get a gruff chuckle from an old cowboy like you, I'm doing well! Bob

    • WillStarr profile image

      WillStarr 6 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

      Great stuff, Bob! Up and funny!

    • diogenes profile image
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      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Nellieanna

      Sophia Angelique

      writeronline

      Thanks so much for visit and kind words, I have been astonished at the reception of these simple articles.

      Bob

    • profile image

      writeronline 6 years ago

      I laugh, I laugh, I pee Iself!! Great work, and pretty important for mankind too. Two things you've probably already heard, but on the offchance...

      1: Billy Connolly reckons "A fart is the cheeks of yer bum applauding yer effort."

      2: The embarrasment of the public burp can be resolved by dialogue, just tell the burp, if it promises to be quiet, you'll let it out the back way....

      Keep up the poetry Bob, as Sophie says above me here, it's the literati who've screwed it up. Your work has the power to raise the standard, by lowering the tone.

    • profile image

      Sophia Angelique 6 years ago

      I think the reason there is no money in poetry is because the literati have taken over. Unfortunately, the literati produces boring, belly gazing drivel, and equally unfortunately, this is the stuff that the schools, colleges, and universities teach. It's so painfully anal that anyone who has a sense of humor and life just avoids it. If poetry that was clever and humorous, the more positive people would enjoy it. When they left school, they would have an appetite for it, and they would pay for it. Unfortunately, it's a catch 22 situation. :)

    • Nellieanna profile image

      Nellieanna Hay 6 years ago from TEXAS

      I love this marvelous hub, (being a poet of sorts). Emily Dickinson is my muse and if you like her poetry, you might like mine. I love simplicity. It doesn't require a novel to express a feeling or an experience.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Lovely comment...you can just tell I'm a profficient farter, can't you! bob

    • chspublish profile image

      chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

      Brilliant - fart or not - and I'm so glad the world was saved by poets like you.!

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Treat 'em mean; keep 'em keen!

      (I will sweetie) Bob

    • QudsiaP1 profile image

      QudsiaP1 6 years ago

      Hehehe, very funny. :)

      Could you be a little easy on me, Bob? :D

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      That's very true, missie. Thanks for you visit...Bob

    • cathylynn99 profile image

      cathylynn99 6 years ago from northeastern US

      especially enjoyed the last poem. we think we're smarter when we're only luckier, and only so far.

    • diogenes profile image
      Author

      diogenes 6 years ago from UK and Mexico

      Lovely comment M2C. I am a great admirer of Frost and like Dickinson. I don't recall Masters, I'll have a look.

      Frost would be in my top 3 poets I think. His poems are so simple yet deep and clear. Thanks for visit and kind words. Bob

    • profile image

      Motown2Chitown 6 years ago

      Bob, this is GREAT! Thoroughly wonderful, really. I'm not a huge fan of poetry - although I have been a dedicated, loving, and admiring fan of Emily Dickinson since I was a young girl. I'm also a fan of Robert Frost and Edgar Lee Masters, all American - as I'm sure you know.

      Anyway, I tend to steer away from modern poetry mostly because I'm not good enough at choosing the right nouns. Another writer I know who writes novels says that he forces himself to read poetry to learn how to use the "right" nouns and verbs the first time so they don't need to be adjectivised or adverbified. Anyway, this was UP, useful, funny, and awesome!!