The Bedford Glossary of Critical and Literary Terms - Ross Murfin 2018


Doggerel: Poorly written or crude verse that usually has a humorous quality, a rough or irregular style, and a sentimental or trite subject. Doggerel may be intentional (for comic effect) or unintentional (due to the poet’s ineptitude).

EXAMPLE: The following stanza from James Whitcomb Riley’s “The Doctor” (1907) is unintentional doggerel:

He is the master of emotions — he

Is likewise certain of that mastery, —

Or dare he face contagion in its ire,

Or scathing fever in its leaping fire?

He needs must smile upon the ghastly face

That yearns up toward him in that warded place

Where even the Saint-like Sisters’ lips grow dumb.

Why not idealize the Doctor some?

Today, doggerel routinely circulates on the Internet, such as through email “forwards.”