Nonsense…defined…

Nonsense may be mainly known as, well, just plain gibberish, or you may say “That’s utter nonsense,” meaning you disagree with what was said, whether it be hard to understand or not.

Strange thing, but in the Dictionary of Literary Terms and Literary Theory, nonsense is defined quite dramatically and it draws me in with fascination. Basically there are two kinds of nonsense: the unintentional, and the intentional. The former is common speech and the latter actually has its own minor genre in literature, if you can believe it. But I suppose I can. I’ve read a lot of nonsense that sells itself as literature, like all the gibber gook tink floo doth now more and less fly east via west you find in any Nora Roberts cookie cutter novel. Sorry if you’re a fan. What more fascinates me is the idea of this intentional nonsense (Nora need not apply) that historically has gone down as poetic and literary…such as the example that follows.

One of the classic nonsense poems of Samuel Foote (1720-77), The Great Panjandrum:

So she went into the garden
to cut a cabbage leaf
to make an apple-pie;
and at the same time
a great she-bear, coming down the street,
pops its head into the shop.
What! no soap?
So he died,
and she very imprudently married the Barber:
and there were present
the Picninnies,
and the Joblillies
and the Garyulies,
and the great Panjandrum himself,
with the little round button at top;
and they all fell to playing the game of catch-as-catch-can,
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots.

I think I am familiar with the Garyulies…they are a sorry lot.
If you give a floo, or a shit, or a damn….let me know.

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