Glossary

Term: Bathos


Bathos is the name given to the feeling that the tone or language being used is far more elevated than is appropriate. Unintentional bathos can utterly scupper a poem, as that sense of distance and disconnectedness is funny, but that humour can be used intentionally, often to humorous or satiric effect. The speaker in Ian Duhig's 'According to Dineen', for example, reaches for the images of high romance, such as the moon, but each time finds a bathetic image, like the half-boiled potato, that brings the poem down to earth. The love may not be in doubt, but trying to express it "properly, according to Dineen" is shown to be in vain.

How to use this term

Kit Wright is either a big fan of power stations, or his 'Ode to Didcot Power Station' is using bathos.

Pick a Letter...

Daljit Nagra

From time to time a poet is in residence at the Poetry Archive, talking about poetry with anyone who wants to join in the conversation.

Comic Verse

I'm troubled, as you can tell by my introduction, about comic verse. Comic verse gets bad press because rigid notions of comedy foreground throwaway poems. Surely the best comedy is when the poem surprises us into laughter rather than setting up t... >