The Double Amputation Theory of Poetry

There’s a theory out there about poetry that sounds like something you’d hear in a joke about the fools of Gotham.

Once upon a time, a fellow of Gotham cut himself shaving his leg; and as he treated it by applying horse apples as an ointment, the leg soon became gangrenous and had to be cut off.

About the same time next year, the one-legged Gothamite visited his doctor. “I have the strangest sensation of lopsidedness,” the Gothamite complained. “Whenever I walk, I fall down on every other step. What ails me, doc?”

After due investigation, doctor saw the trouble. “Eureka!” He cried. “You’re missing a leg, aren’t you? Why, that explains it all!”

“Is that the trouble?” the relieved Gothamite asked. “And there’s something you can do about it?”

“To be sure,” the doctor said with great authority, “I can make you even on both sides.”

So he amputated the other leg.

Last night I heard a man propose to fix the unimaginative nature of some rhyming verse he saw, by amputating the rhyme, too.

Why not just admit there’s a general failure of Imagination, and supply people with the crutch of Literary Invention?

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