Friday, January 22, 2010

Maybe not Impossible, but definitely Strange.

At first I was going to write about how completely strange John Wilmot's poem, "The Imperfect Enjoyment," turned out to be. And I want to make myself clear that I still definitely hold this opinion. But after thinking about it some more, I've come to a new sense of appreciation for his originality and courage that are evident in this work.

When thinking on the poem, I was reminded of that old joke where if you add the words "in bed" to the end of virtually any sentence it either becomes funny or is seen in an entirely new light (or both). In a sense, that's what Wilmot did with "The Imperfect Enjoyment." The history of literature of any given culture is riddled with tragic heroes and men who often times fail to meet their heart's desire of love. Wilmot adds the "in bed" to this classic construction.

I'm fairly certain this is the first time I've ever heard a man talk in length about failing to please a woman, even in person, and yet here Wilmot is declaring to the entire country, "I'm impotent!" Now that takes balls (albeit not necessarily effective ones). I'm honestly curious about how serious he was when writing this poem. He had just obtained a position of power and is essentially destroying a large portion of respect people may have had for him.

The entire situation boggles me. Why write this? Why write it in a bragging manner? Why get it PUBLISHED? I thought absurdism was a 20th century deal, but apparently Wilmot got the ball rolling early (Pun intended).


  1. This is not an intellectual comment, but your post is hilarious (and insightful); I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  2. I may be biased, but I think I did make some intellectual inquiries. I just stated them in a more casual manner. My questions about the time period (religious turmoil, just being reinstated into power, etc) in which he wrote this and about his motivation for writing/publish this could be very illuminating, in my opinion.