Poetry has always had a lighter side. There is, in fact, an Oxford Book of Comic Verse (and many other anthologies that cover similar territory). Though epic poetry has tended to cover the so called big subjects war, the founding of nations, the relationship of men to the gods or God and love and death there has been satirical poetic writing since at least the time of the Greeks and Romans. Of the ancient Roman satirists, perhaps the best known is Catullus, whose raunchy poems took the piss out of any number of persons and issues of his day. English poets have employed humour from early on, as well one thinks of the ribaldry at the heart of Chaucer. Shakespeare allowed bawdy puns to creep into his poetic plays, to please the groundlings. Later, humour becomes wit and arguably more refined during the age of Pope and Swift. Swifts verse was often filled with the sort of bodily, lewd, gross out humour we associate now with Adam Sandler or Melissa McCarthy; references to bodily functions, especially those of women, were meant to shock and amuse and to ultimately remind the aristocracy of the horrific fact that everyone shits, as Swift famously implied more than once. Pope, whose sense of wit was less scatological than Swifts, has a famous poem actually called Visiting Dr. Swift.
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