Poetry tattoos: 5 mistakes that must be avoided

Tattoo’s, the Marmite of body art, are everywhere (Excuse the double entandre). For some it’s a form of expression, for some an addiction as they become more tattoo than skin.

Tattoo’s, the Marmite of body art, are everywhere (Excuse the double entandre). For some it’s a form of expression, for some an addiction as they become more tattoo than skin. For some a secret to be unveiled in the throws of passion, a symbol of a person they used to be or a constant reminder of a past mistake. Men seem to regret their tattoos more than women and a third of people regret having tattoos at all.

Poetic Dedication

Poetry is loved by millions across the world. Some love poetry so much that they want to inscribe it permanently underneath their skin by injecting ink. Celebrities such as Tori Spelling, Megan Fox, Angelina Jolie and now the flawless Leona Lewis leading the trend. I have tattoo’s (Don’t tell my Mum though), and I know some poetry. Personally I wouldn’t want to mix the two together, but some of you eclectic folk out there do.

Selections include Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’, ‘Wandering lonely’ with Wordsworth and ‘the journey doesn’t end’ with J.R.R Tolkin. If you do make the decision to place words of poetic beauty on your body think carefully- not all poems are suitable for permanent display.

Here’s what not to get tattooed on your white bits:

Bawdy limericks

‘Roses are red, Violets are blue, I’m no good at Poems, Nice tits.’ I am all for taking classics and manipulating them into something aesthetic and personal. This may have been a funny idea after six pints in the Fox and Hounds with the office, however.. at the next job interview? Walking down the aisle with your daughter by your side? Funerals? Holding your grandchild against your chest for the first time?

The tatooist’s joke

A really epic piece of poetry in a language you don’t speak. Arabic, Latin, Chinese; all very beautiful languages but if you don’t speak the language how do you actually really know what it says? Your tattoo artist may have told you that it is a quote from Tennyson but in reality it could say, ‘Hello, I don’t speak Arabic and I will never be able to read what this actually says – I am a squashed cabbage leaf’.

She sucked and sucked

Quotes that you don’t actually understand. If you choose a whole poem then you are pretty safe however, if you pick a quote such as ‘she sucked and sucked and sucked their juices’ which might seem rather erotic and titillating. However, delve further into Christina Rossetti and your own juices may retract as you discover the unattractive truth.

The ex

A poem featuring a lovers name. Lovers can become ex-lovers faster than Nick Clegg can issue apologies, so tattooing of this sort is a bit ridiculous for the morale of divorcées. Another mistake would be to choose a poem titled with your favourite person’s name. Take Christina by Louis Macneice, her ‘underwear was lace’, you ‘dressed her..undressed her, she kept a smiling face’. Sounds like the perfect poetic dedication ‘until the day she tumbled and broke herself in two’.

So much blood

Epics filled with gore. Some people verbally dislike body art so it may seem rather tempting to put something particularly vile on your forearm just to spite them. Stay away from pieces like The Inheritor, Geoffrey Parsons descriptions of ‘so much blood’ and the ‘yards and yards of guts’ of the ‘corpse’ are enough to make anybody instantly dislike you. Even in the pangs of teenage angst, when the world is unfair and nobody understands you- a permanent verse on your upper back is enough to isolate yourself from society for the remainder of your existence.

It would be so easy to inject some poetic nonsense underneath your skin. My suggestion is to stay away from the tattoos and instead memorise some beautiful poetry. People will marvel at your intellectual ability and lovers will throw themselves at your feet. In the morning after the night before, when you have recited all of Shakespeare’s sonnets – you can leave before they wake up, safe in the knowledge that you do not have to absorb their name on your wrist for the rest of your days.