Not unlike William Yeats's Lake Isle of Innisfree, this untitled poem by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz has two verses of four lines each--with the second verse being somwhat weaker than the first. Unlike Yeats, though, this is not so disappointing, as Vogon poetry is somewhat more consistently atrocious. This essay attempts to explore the depths it doesn't quite plumb after it runs out of
atomic vaporizing rays stronger than what you find in a Kill-o-Zap steam.
Here is the poem recopied in full(copyright 1946 years after some guy got nailed to a tree for saying how we should be nice to somebody for a change):
Oh freddled gruntbuggley, thy micturations are to me
As plurdled gabbleblotchits on a lurgid bee
Groop I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes
And hooptiously drangle me with crinkly bindlewurdles, or I will rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon, see if I don't!
In the first line, we start out as a quasi-Wordsworthian ode a la Grunthos the Flatulent's "Ode to a Lump of Green Putty I Found Under My Armpit One Midsummer Morning." Although micturation might be found in a dictionary, it is redeemed by being a little-known sysnonym of urination. That gruntbuggley is not or should not be alive produces a bleak modernistic image, or something.
The second line contains an interesting parallel. Although this was written in blank verse(I think! One atrociously metered rhyme out of four ain't even a quorum) "plurdled" and "freddled" work very well together. Note comparing the inanimate gruntbuggley with a bee(let's assume it's stinging things) and implying that gabbleblotchits are rather freddled. My inclination is to believe that gabbleblotchits would be mouth-shaped spots too big to be freddled(stained with dots, rusty freckles for machines? Or are the gabbleblotchits what the machine has left?) so perhaps there is a machine that is coughing out liquid that is slowly swelling and taking over or ruining the world. Note how Jeltz feels at home as the world is being destroyed.
Groop--a simple misspelling to the unobservant, but a proper translation. The original Vogonese(I do not have the keyboard for the correct charaters) is something between grope and group--to grope a group. Knowing that "turlingdrome" is a term of disrespect(Life, The Universe and Everything and knowing Vogons' tendency for lack of excess affection we can guess what this means. "Implore" may be the most understated word in the whole poem. Foonting seems to be "foolish" plus "fainting," another accurate translation from Vogonese. This would fit in well with what Jeltz wishes to do to said turlingdromes and mixes an active and passive adjective well. I mean, for his purposes.
Drangle is "drown" plus "strangle." That these are both two ways of death underlines a repeat theme in Vogon poetry--you can only really kill someone one way no matter how many ways you find to torture them. Another famous poem expounded on how if you kill an immortal several times, it loses the fun of variety. Anyhow, the poem degenerates into nonsense(and even if it doesn't, I'll need to take pills for each color of the rainbow before I look into this again) with words like bindlewurdles and blurglecruncheon. Gobberwarts are perhaps bulging warts.
A second verse was written five years later. You can see it in Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the Infocom text adventure.
Gashee morphousite, thou expungiest quoopisk!
Fripping lyshus wimbgunts, awhilst moongrovenly kormzibs.
Bleem miserable venchit! Bleem forever mestinglish asunder frapt!
Gerond withoutitude form into formless bloit, why not then? Moose.
The first line is quite explosive. Is the exclamation too much? Three in one four-line stanza indicates that Jeltz no longer wishes for subtlety--the sort that can stay with and torture the reader. And I think "morphous" is too close to "form" which I will examine in the last line.
The second line is too fancy. Awhilst is not in line with the "or I will" two lines ago. "Awhilst moongrovenly" provides readers with three "nice" images at once, which may be good for bad flowery poetry but not bad Vogon poetry. Although sudden shifts in diction provide the reader with pain, the truly great poetry will look for more long-term effects. However, I believe I had a nightmare about kormzibs once after eating a ten-sack of small "to go" burgers from Galacticastle. Don't ask me what they are--my poetic intuition, you see. They are probably similar to James Thurber's Todal.
The double use of the word bleem dilutes this line, along with the actual word asunder--although asunder is included in a lot of bad poetry, that bad poetry is generally maudlin. Very few who read the Onion's report on how children of divorced parents are twice as likely to write bad poetry(with concommitant images of lightning striking trees--very good--asunder) should forget this sort of point. I believe mestinglish is spelled correctly. "Frapt" is too close to rapt, which readers should be anything but.
Although gerond contains the menacing spectre of the sort of grammar term we always forget(gerond) there is no intrinsic violence in the next word, withoutitude--and the first stanza has set us up for that. Again, "form into formless" is too repetitive, and "why not then?" while it is a favorite rebuke of lazy parents does not have the simple ring of, say, "Resistance is useless." Perhaps "Moose." Spoofs this. Or perhaps it implies a form of moose torture unknown outside Vogsphere, so its true meaning cannot be known to all.
Mmm...the second verse is still good, though, and perhaps it loses a little something in translation(still kicks Jabberwocky's you-know-what, though!) It should be noted that, although Mr. Adams was able to transcribe the second verse, he can't even seem to make up his mind which sentence comes first. Each time I play the game, it's different. Any attempt at covering it up by claiming it's a puzzle for the player won't slip by ME, no sir.
Guess I'll shuffle off to listen to some gangster rap, now. Cuss-words don't all rhyme, but some ambitious folk still believe they do, in their hearts...
"Vogon poetry" is copyright by Douglas Adams. If you want to read more about it, read The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It's a classic.