Vogon Poetry: A Maligned Artistic Treasure

(With apologies to Douglas Adams)

Vogon Poetry: A Maligned Artistic Treasure

Andrew Davis

You may be shocked to see that a math (and astronomy) teacher is writing about poetry.  However, your teachers have interests beyond our classroom subjects. Ask Dr. Erwin about statistics, or Mr. Malecek about Greek riddles, or Mrs. Poth about her love of ancient Chinese tea sets. You may be surprised at the breadth of the interests of Priory faculty! Today, I want to write about a favorite of mine: Vogon Poetry.

Vogon Poetry was introduced to Earth via the great writer and galactic chronicler Douglas Adams, author of a five-book trilogy which begins with The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Adams describes the Vogon culture as a cross between Dante’s 99th level of Hell and the bureaucracy of a Missouri DMV. They are a nightmarishly banal people, who wander the Universe looking for paperwork to sign in triplicate, and a space in which they can force others to queue in.  They also specialize in construction work, especially in building bypasses.  In case you are unaware of what a bypass is, Mr. Adams describes them as such: “Bypasses are devices that allow some people to dash from point A to point B very fast while other people dash from point B to point A very fast. People living at point C, being a point directly in between, are often given to wonder what’s so great about point A that so many people from point B are so keen to get there, and what’s so great about point B that so many people from point A are so keen to get there. They often wish that people would just once and for all work out where the hell they wanted to be.”

After describing Vogon culture, Adams then goes on to state that Vogon poetry is the third worst poetry in the entire Universe. I completely fail to understand how he can make that claim, as the Universe is an awfully big place, as Adams himself writes in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Surely Adams has not explored every form of poetry everywhere across all time. I am quite confident that he would have ranked Vogon poetry as the fourth worst poetry if he had read the words of one Mrs. J. Moretta of Gainesville, Florida whose poetry was always about either the Ophelia Complex or the Oedipus Complex. Very boring, as there are lots of other letters of the alphabet to name complexes with: the Zorro Complex, or the A-aron Complex, to name two.  Interestingly the title of the second worst poem is Ode to a Small Lump of Green Putty I Found in My Armpit One Midsummer Morning.  I think the author of this poem, Grunthos the Flatulent, may have been wandering the halls of Priory’s Junior School after sports when searching for inspiration for this epic masterpiece.

But, I digress from the beauty of Vogon Poetry. Adams claims that Vogons sometimes torture people by reading them poetry. I would rather frame this not as torture, but as a character-building experience. After all, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Interestingly, Grunthos the Flatulent died when his own intestines leaped up through his throat and strangled him in a last-ditch effort to save humanity. Since Vogon poetry is not as bad as Grunthos’s work, Vogon poetry simply cannot be seen as violating the Geneva Convention. Besides, have you read all 154 of Shakespeare’s Sonnets? Nothing but love, beauty, more love, and more beauty.  Ever the same, with no change or variation. Now that’s torture!

Alas, I believe I have come to the end of the space allotted for my article. Let me close with an example of Vogon poetry. Pay close attention to the beautiful imagery, the rolling cadence of the text, and of course, the deep meaning in every line. Any of you readers who aspire to write beautiful poems, pay even closer attention!


Oh freddled gruntbuggly,

Thy micturations are to me, (with big yawning)

As plurdled gabbleblotchits, in midsummer morning

On a lurgid bee,

That mordiously hath blurted out,

Its earted jurtles, grumbling

Into a rancid festering confectious organ squealer. [drowned out by moaning and screaming]

Now the jurpling slayjid agrocrustles,

Are slurping hagrilly up the axlegrurts,

And living glupules frart and stipulate,

Like jowling meated liverslime,

Groop, I implore thee, my foonting turlingdromes,

And hooptiously drangle me,

With crinkly bindlewurdles,mashurbitries.

Or else I shall rend thee in the gobberwarts with my blurglecruncheon,

See if I don’t!