Abbottabad Inspires Terrible Poetry

The Bin Laden raid has cast the world’s attention on a small Pakistani city, a mountainside retreat that was, in fact, founded by the British. Abbottabad was named after General Sir James Abbott, and Stephen Moss of the Guardian discovers that the military man was also a man of letters, writing a poem to his namesake town. The rub, however, is that it rather awful poetry:

Abbott’s poem is notable chiefly for its non-sequiturs. “To me the place seemed like a dream/ And far ran a lonesome stream.” It takes genius to produce a couplet in which the second line bears no relation to the first. One begins to suspect satirical intent – or perhaps brain damage. “The wind hissed as if welcoming us / The pine swayed creating a lot of fuss” … “And the tiny cuckoo sang it away.” WTF? as William Empson might have said. And does that final word “thwart” make any grammatical sense?

Image: Abbottabad in 1907 (via wikicommons)


  • No, that last word “thwart” makes no grammatical sense, even if drenched in poetic license. Nor does it rhyme with “heart.” Awful, indeed.