|Cover illustration (c1938)|
Louis Untermeyer, Bygones: The Recollections of Louis Untermeyer. New York: Harcourt, Brace and World, 1965—
[Recalling his earlier immature writings] They were, as someone is supposed to have said, the kind of thing one should go to the trouble of not writing.…
It is as a poet that I most resent those resentful of puns, for the pun is, per se, a poetic device. Poetry is essential a form of play, a play of metaphor, a play of rhyme. The pun is another form of syllabic playfulness, a matching of sounds that, like rhyme, are similar yet not quite the same—a matching and shifting of vowels and consonants, an adroit assonance sometimes derided as jackassonance. Whatever form it takes, searching or silly, the pun springs spontaneously from the same combination of wit and imagination which speeds the poetic impulse.
[James] Joyce might well have tesitifed for the defense. Finnegans Wake, with its "Ibscenest nansence," "There's no plagues like Rome," "Wring out the clothes! Bring in the dew!" is a book-length frolic of puns. The nonrational logic of the man-level parable (or parody) of the life of everyman embodies more than a thousand word-plays, which makes Joyce the most riotous punster since Shakespeare (p. 45).