To this, a commenter, replied, "'Noxious without redemption'? What does that mean? It's just a clever versicle, and nothing wrong with that."
My response, with a paraphrase of the poem to the effect, Look at these lousy people, reiterated: "My point was—a poem of this sort—one doesn't return to, no matter how well done. Maybe Matthew Prior's 'An Epitaph' but I can't think of other examples, and I certainly wouldn't turn to his ahead of many another poem in my Norton."
My respondent's word, "versicle," struck me as inappropriate. I had to look it up, and Merriam-Webster has, as its primary definition, "a short verse or sentence (as from a psalm) said or sung by a leader in public worship and followed by a response from the people". As a secondary definition it gave, "a little verse", which struck me as obvious, but a little abstruse. The poem in question consisted of three quatrains, something I would normally refer to as "a poem" (or "a short poem").
The versicle's defender, let me mention, is a successful academic, who frequently likes to introduce into a conversation the fact that he authored a book which has been used as a textbook. Perhaps in academia "versicle" is commonly used as a term for "a small poem" even though it is not common among us lay people.
Recently reading Marcus Aurelius, however, the thought naturally in my mind is, "No, there is nothing wrong with that, but there is not anything especially right either." The rational mind should be actively pursuing something higher than mere cleverness. We expect as much from poetry—from a Stoical world view, I would say the intention counts for more than the accomplishment.
Another academic piped in, that the poem was "spot on. I've returned to it a number of times over the years." She touted its virtues (perhaps accurately).
For me, to that, the Aurelian response would be, "Too bad that you boast of your deficiencies like that. The directing mind should devote itself to superior pursuits, and return to those." However, Aurelius assures us that we are not responsible for the thinking of another person, but only for our own. (Actually, he assured himself, but we overhear him.) In human society, people must think in a variety of ways: it is for oneself to cleave to what his directing mind tells him is correct.
There is an old joke, widespread on the internet, about a "super calloused fragile mystic hexed by halitosis." The ostensible humor derives from a pun on the phrase "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious" sung by Julie Andrews in the Disney movie "Mary Poppins".
A poetic acquaintance assembled a versicle—or a small poem of four quatrains in the ballad format—which sets up and then culminates in this very pun. "Nothing wrong with that," my commenter might say, "It's just a clever versicle." Yes it is, and he is right. It requires a certain giftedness to recognize that "super calloused fragile mystic/ hexed by halitosis" might be fitted perfectly to the ballad frame. One expects gifted people to perform such an exercise from time to time; though it is not, in Aurelian terms, a laudable aim for such a gift, and certainly not something to be returned to.
The poem about those horrible academics paradoxically criticizes and appeals to a literary academic mindset, but offers little of use or value to those outside that sphere. Marcus Cornelius Fronto wrote to his pupil:
In all arts, I take it, total inexperience and ignorance are preferable to a semi-experience and a half-knowledge. For he who is conscious that he knows nothing of an art aims at less, and consequently comes less to grief: in fact, diffidence excludes presumption. But when anyone parades a superficial knowledge as mastery of a subject, through false confidence he makes manifold slips.