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.

Related Terms


Related Poems

The Children's Archive

This part of the Archive is full of poems chosen specially for children. Meet old favourites and make new discoveries.

Support The Poetry Archive
The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.
Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary