Really Bad Poetry

The poetry of Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle, had the honor of being described by Samuel Pepys as “the most ridiculous thing that ever was wrote.”

It’s right up with William McGonnigal’s verse.
Although it could well be worse

What is Liquid?

All that doth flow we cannot liquid name
Or else would fire and water be the same;
But that is liquid which is moist and wet
Fire that property can never get.
Then ’tis not cold that doth the fire put out
But ’tis the wet that makes it die, no doubt.

Nature’s Cook

Death is the cook of Nature; and we find
Meat dressèd several ways to please her mind.
Some meats she roasts with fevers, burning hot,
And some she boils with dropsies in a pot.
Some for jelly consuming by degrees,
And some with ulcers, gravy out to squeeze.
Some flesh as sage she stuffs with gouts, and pains,
Others for tender meat hangs up in chains.
Some in the sea she pickles up to keep,
Others, as brawn is soused, those in wine steep.
Some with the pox, chops flesh, and bones so small,
Of which she makes a French fricasse withal.
Some on gridirons of calentures is broiled,
And some is trodden on, and so quite spoiled.
But those are baked, when smothered they do die,
By hectic fevers some meat she doth fry.
In sweat sometimes she stews with savoury smell,
A hodge-podge of diseases tasteth well.
Brains dressed with apoplexy to Nature’s wish,
Or swims with sauce of megrims in a dish.
And tongues she dries with smoke from stomachs ill,
Which as the second course she sends up still.
Then Death cuts throats, for blood-puddings to make,
And puts them in the guts, which colics rack.
Some hunted are by Death, for deer that’s red.
Or stall-fed oxen, knockèd on the head.
Some for bacon by Death are singed, or scalt,
Then powdered up with phlegm, and rheum that’s salt.

4 responses to “Really Bad Poetry

  1. Good lord, that IS the worst poetry I have ever come across.

    I wonder what her guests made of it – surely she would have been one of the types to insist on reading aloud at parties…


  2. The mind boggles – I was going to do a podcast of it but I couldn’t bring myself to actually read it out loud 🙂


  3. Sounds like a recipe for food poisoning to me!


  4. I think the food poisoning is referred to in the lines
    “And tongues she dries with smoke from stomachs ill,
    Which as the second course she sends up still.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.