Phyllis Mc Ginley - Use of Light Verse

Use of Light Verse

Light verse poetry is poetry that attempts to be humorous and was the style of choice for Phyllis McGinley. She chose to write in this manner for multiple reasons, one of which being its practicality. The New Yorker, for which she very often wrote, paid more for “light” poetry than it did for “serious” poetry. McGinley, in the book The Writer Observed, describes the difference between her so-called light verse and the poems with more weighty material. In the book, she states that she has arrived at a distinction between the two: “the appeal of light verse is to the intellect and the appeal of serious verse is to the emotions.”

Her ability to target this audience and make humorous routine responsibilities made her very popular. “In times of unrest and fear, it is perhaps the writer's duty to celebrate, to single out some values we can cherish, to talk about some of the few warm things we know in a cold world.”

Perhaps the main reason for her utilization of light verse though, was that the skills needed for writing this style were similar to the skills of mastering familial life. “Like writing light verse, housewifery took seemingly effortless skill, nuance, and balance; it, too, required a balancing act of mother/housekeeper/hostess where wit and humor were employed just as much as in McGinley’s poetry. Delicacy in awkward situations not only was the role of the hostess housewife, but also could be said of McGinley’s verse as well. Both professions benefit from perfect form and the ability to be light with one’s feet.” (Leroy 16).

McGinley’s skill in crafting perfect verses of poetry not only produced brilliant poems poking fun at the everyday happenings of life but also, like all great poets, provided a medium in which she could espouse her views on society.

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