Saturday, November 26, 2005

A note on echo poems

The echo poem was a form popular in the 16th-17th centuries. It comprises a series of statements of questions followed by a response (or echo) which repeats part of the end of the question:

Then tell me, what is that supreme delight?
Echo: Light
From George Herbert (1593-1633), Heaven

Another example is Edward de Vere's echo verses (1588).

Given the limited options, it is usual to allow some laxity about the precision of the echo.

There is a modern ribald echo poem about poets of the past by Kinglsey Amis, included in his published Letters (p. 115):

Say what the realm of honey-tongued Pope is. Echo: Piss

What ails Wordsworth in Nature's mystic lap? Echo: Clap

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