Glossary

Term: Parody


Parody is the imitation of the style of another work, writer or genre, which relies on deliberate exaggeration to achieve comic or satirical effect. It is usually necessary to be familiar with the original in order to appreciate the parody, though some parodies have become better known than the poems they imitate.

The very act of writing leaves every poet vulnerable to parody, but some seem irresistible. T S Eliot parody is almost a genre in itself, with Wendy Cope's 'Waste Land Limericks' perhaps the best-known recent example. Cope is an expert parodist; her 'Strugnell's Haiku' finds delicious humour in the clumsy attempts of her invented wannabe poet, Jason Strugnell, to engage with the delicacy of the traditional Japanese form.

'The Passionate Pupil Declaring Love' is a gentle parody on an Elizabethan poem, 'The Passionate Shepherd to His Love' by Christopher Marlowe. The first line of the original, "Come live with me and be my love" is one of the most famous in English poetry. Andrew Fusek Peters is in good company: the Marlowe poem has provoked many responses over the centuries, including a poem by John Donne called 'The Bait' which borrowed that famous opening line.

How to use this term

Ian McMillan introduces his poem 'For Me' by making clear it is a parody of a certain point of view of poetry.

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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... >