Light verse

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

Light verse

Light verse: Verse aimed at entertaining the reader, whether through satiric, witty, or simply playful humor. Light verse is often brief and is distinguished from other verse by its tone rather than by its subject matter. Common types include the double dactyl, epigram, limerick, nonsense verse, nursery rhyme, parody, and vers de société.

EXAMPLES: Ogden Nash’s “Reflections on Ice-Breaking” (1945):


Is dandy

But liquor

Is quicker.

Dorothy Parker wrote light verse on a topic usually considered “heavy” in a poem entitled “Résumé” (1926):

Razors pain you;

Rivers are damp;

Acids stain you;

And drugs cause cramp.

Guns aren’t lawful;

Nooses give;

Gas smells awful;

You might as well live.

Shel Silverstein wrote illustrated collections of light verse for children and adults including Where the Sidewalk Ends (1974), A Light in the Attic (1981), and Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook (published posthumously in 2005).

Asinine Love Poetry (2005), compiled by the editors of the online journal asinine poetry, <>, is a collection of light verse on the subject of love.