Bad Poems for the Death of Children

Perri Klass at The Hudson Review:

Julia Ann Moore (1847–1920), the “Sweet Singer of Michigan,” was one of the worst American poets of the nineteenth century, or perhaps of any century. Her ear for the clunky inverted phrase, or the just-miss rhyme, generated bad verse on patriotic themes and historical subjects, but what really inspired her was obituary poetry, a genre which thrived all through the nineteenth century, and which drew steadily on the talent—or lack of talent—of local amateur commemorative poets. And her specialty within a specialty was obituary poetry for those dying young: “Every time one of my darlings died, or any of the neighbor’s children were buried, I just wrote a poem on their death,” she told an interviewer from the Chicago Daily Inter Ocean in 1878. “That’s the way I got started.”

more here.