Read BEST NONSENSE VERSES of The Best Nonsense Verses , free online book, by Josephine Dodge Daskam, on ReadCentral.com.

FATHER WILLIAM

“You are old, father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white:
And yet you incessantly stand on your head
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”

“In my youth,” father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain:
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back somersault in at the door
Pray, what is the reason of that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment one shilling the box
Allow me to sell you a couple.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak;
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife:
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth; “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”

[Lewis Carroll

THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun!”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand:
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
“If this were only cleared away,”
They said, “it would be grand!”

“If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,” the Walrus said
“That they could get it clear!”
“I doubt it,” said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

“O Oysters come and walk with us!”
The Walrus did beseech.
“A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.”

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,
“To talk of many things;
Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax
Of cabbages and kings
And why the sea is boiling hot
And whether pigs have wings.”

“But wait a bit,” the Oysters cried,
“Before we have our chat:
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!”
“No hurry!” said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

“A loaf of bread,” the Walrus said,
“Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.”

“But not on us!” the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
“After such kindness that would be
A dismal thing to do!”
“The night is fine,” the Walrus said,
“Do you admire the view?”

“It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf
I’ve had to ask you twice!”

“It seems a shame,” the Walrus said,
“To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!”
The Carpenter said nothing but
“The butter’s spread too thick!”

“I weep for you,” the Walrus said:
“I deeply sympathize.”
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

“O Oysters,” said the Carpenter,
“You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?”
But answer came there none
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten every one.

[Lewis Carroll

THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK Extracts

“Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
The warranted genuine Snarks.

“Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
With a flavour of Will-o-the-wisp.

“Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five-o’clock tea,
And dines on the following day.

“The fourth is its fondness for bathing-machines,
Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes
A sentiment open to doubt.

“The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

“For although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
Yet I feel it my duty to say
Some are Boojums ” The Bellman broke off in alarm,
For the Baker had fainted away.

They roused him with muffins they roused him with ice
They roused him with mustard and cress
They roused him with jam and judicious advice
They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried “Silence! Not even a shriek!”
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called “Ho!” told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

“My father and mother were honest, though poor ”
“Skip all that!” cried the Bellman in haste,
“If it once becomes dark, there’s no chance of a Snark.
We have hardly a minute to waste!”

“I skip forty years,” said the Baker, in tears,
“And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

“A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell ”
“Oh, skip your dear uncle,” the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

“He remarked to me then,” said the mildest of men,
“’If your Snark be a Snark, that is right;
Fetch it home by all means you may serve it with greens
And it’s handy for striking a light.

“’You may seek it with thimbles and seek it with care;
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap

“’But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away
And never be met with again!’

“It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle’s last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

“It is this, it is this ” “We have had that before!”
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied “Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

“I engage with the Snark every night after dark
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

“But if ever I met with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away
And the notion I cannot endure!”

The Bellman looked uffish and wrinkled his brow.
“If only you’d spoken before!
It’s excessively awkward to mention it now,
With the Snark, so to speak, at the door!

“We should all of us grieve, as you well may believe,
If you never were met with again
But surely, my man, when the voyage began,
You might have suggested it then?

“It’s excessively awkward to mention it now
As I think I’ve already remarked.”
And the man they called “Hi!” replied, with a sigh,
“I informed you the day we embarked.

“You may charge me with murder or want of sense
(We are all of us weak at times)
But the slightest approach to a false pretence
Was never among my crimes!

“I said it in Hebrew I said it in Dutch
I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
That English is what you speak!”

[Lewis Carroll

JABBERWOCKY.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the môme raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought.
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through, and through,
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the môme raths outgrabe.

[Lewis Carroll

THE JUMBLIES

1

They went to sea in a sieve, they did;
In a sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say,
On a winter’s morn, on a stormy day,
In a sieve they went to sea.
And when the sieve turned round and round,
And every one cried, “You’ll all be drowned!”
They called aloud, “Our sieve ain’t big;
But we don’t care a button, we don’t care a fig;
In a sieve we’ll go to sea!”
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.

2

They sailed away in a sieve, they did,
In a sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a ribbon, by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast.
And everyone said who saw them go,
“Oh! won’t they be soon upset, you know?
For the sky is dark, and the voyage long;
And, happen what may, it’s extremely wrong
In a sieve to sail so fast.”
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue;
And they went to sea in a sieve.

3

The water it soon came in, it did:
The water it soon came in:
So, to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat;
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery jar;
And each of them said, “How wise we are!
Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
Yet we never can think we are rash or wrong.
While round in our sieve we spin.”
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue:
And they went to sea in a sieve.

4

And all night long they sailed away:
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of the coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
“O Timballoo! How happy we are
When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar!
And all night long, in the moonlight pale,
We sail away with a pea-green sail
In the shade of the mountains brown.”
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue:
And they went to sea in a sieve.

5

They sailed to the Western sea, they did
To a land all covered with trees;
And they bought an owl, and a useful cart,
And a pound of rice, and a cranberry-tart,
And a hive of silvery bees;
And they bought a pig, and some green jackdaws,
And a lovely monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of ring-bo-ree,
And no end of Stilton cheese.
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live:
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue:
And they went to sea in a sieve.

6

And in twenty years they all came back,
In twenty years or more;
And every one said, “How tall they’ve grown!
For they’ve been to the lakes, and the Torrible Zone,
And the hills of the Chankly Bore.”
And they drank their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, “If we only live,
We, too, will go to sea in a sieve,
To the hills of the Chankly Bore.”
Far and few, far and few,
Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
Their heads are green, and their hands are blue,
And they went to sea in a sieve.

[Edward Lear

THE YONGHY-BONGHY-BO

1

On the Coast of Coromandel
Where the early pumpkins blow,
In the middle of the woods
Lived the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
Two old chairs, and half a candle,
One old jug without a handle,
These were all his worldly goods:
In the middle of the woods,
These were all the worldly goods
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

2

Once, among the Bong-trees walking
Where the early pumpkins blow,
To a little heap of stones
Came the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There he heard a Lady talking,
To some milk-white Hens of Dorking,
“’Tis the Lady Jingly Jones!
On that little heap of stones
Sits the Lady Jingly Jones!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

3

“Lady Jingly! Lady Jingly!
Sitting where the pumpkins blow,
Will you come and be my wife?”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
“I am tired of living singly,
On this coast so wild and shingly, –­
I’m a-weary of my life;
If you’ll come and be my wife,
Quite serene would be my life!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

4

“On this Coast of Coromandel
Shrimps and watercresses grow,
Prawns are plentiful and cheap,”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
“You shall have my chairs and candle,
And my jug without a handle!
Gaze upon the rolling deep
(Fish is plentiful and cheap):
As the sea, my love is deep!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

5

Lady Jingly answered sadly,
And her tears began to flow,
“Your proposal comes too late,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
I would be your wife most gladly!”
(Here she twirled her fingers madly,)
“But in England I’ve a mate!
Yes! you’ve asked me far too late,
For in England I’ve a mate,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!

6

“Mr. Jones (his name is Handel,
Handel Jones, Esquire & Co.)
Dorking fowls delights to send,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Keep, oh, keep your chairs and candle,
And your jug without a handle,
I can merely be your friend!
Should my Jones more Dorkings send,
I will give you three, my friend!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!

7

“Though you’ve such a tiny body,
And your head so large doth grow,
Though your hat may blow away,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Though you’re such a Hoddy Doddy,
Yet I wish that I could modi-
fy the words I needs must say!
Will you please to go away?
That is all I have to say,
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!
Mr. Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo!”

8

Down the slippery slopes of Myrtle,
Where the early pumpkins blow,
To the calm and silent sea
Fled the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
There, beyond the Bay of Gurtle,
Lay a large and lively Turtle.
“You’re the Cove,” he said, “for me;
On your back beyond the sea,
Turtle, you shall carry me!”
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Said the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

9

Through the silent roaring ocean
Did the Turtle swiftly go;
Holding fast upon his shell
Rode the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
With a sad primeval motion
Toward the sunset isles of Boshen
Still the Turtle bore him well.
Holding fast upon his shell,
“Lady Jingly Jones, farewell!”
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
Sang the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

10

From the Coast of Coromandel
Did that Lady never go,
On that heap of stones she mourns
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.
On that Coast of Coromandel,
In his jug without a handle
Still she weeps, and daily moans;
On the little heap of stones
To her Dorking Hens she moans,
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo,
For the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo.

[Edward Lear

NONSENSE VERSES

1

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen, four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.”

2

There was an old man of Hong Kong,
Who never did anything wrong;
He lay on his back, with his head in a sack,
That innocuous old man of Hong Kong.

3

There was an Old Man who supposed
That the street door was partially closed;
But some very large Rats ate his coats and his hats,
While that futile Old Gentleman dozed.

4

There was a Young Lady of Norway,
Who casually sat in a doorway;
When the door squeezed her flat, she exclaimed “What of that?”
This courageous Young Lady of Norway.

5

There was an old person of Bow,
Whom nobody happened to know;
So they gave him some soap, and said coldly, “We hope
You will go back directly to Bow!”

6

There was an Old Man on some rocks,
Who shut his wife up in a box:
When she said, “Let me out,” he exclaimed, “Without doubt
You will pass all your life in that box!”

7

There was an old man who said, “How
Shall I flee from this horrible Cow?
I will sit on this stile, and continue to smile,
Which may soften the heart of that Cow.”

8

There was an old man who said “Hush!
I perceive a young bird in this bush!”
When they said, “Is it small?” he replied, “Not at all;
It is four times as big as the bush!”

9

There was a young person in green,
Who seldom was fit to be seen;
She wore a long shawl, over bonnet and all,
Which enveloped that person in green.

10

There was an old person of Ware,
Who rode on the back of a bear;
When they asked, “Does it trot?” he said, “Certainly not!
He’s a Moppsikon Floppsikon bear!”

[Edward Lear

GENTLE ALICE BROWN

It was a robber’s daughter, and her name was Alice Brown,
Her father was the terror of a small Italian town;
Her mother was a foolish, weak, but amiable old thing;
But it isn’t of her parents that I’m going for to sing.

As Alice was a-sitting at her window-sill one day
A beautiful young gentleman he chanced to pass that way;
She cast her eyes upon him, and he looked so good and true,
That she thought, “I could be happy with a gentleman like you!”

And every morning passed her house that cream of gentlemen,
She knew she might expect him at a quarter unto ten,
A sorter in the Custom-house, it was his daily road
(The Custom-house was fifteen minutes’ walk from her abode).

But Alice was a pious girl, who knew it wasn’t wise
To look at strange young sorters with expressive purple eyes;
So she sought the village priest to whom her family confessed
The priest by whom their little sins were carefully assessed.

“Oh, holy father,” Alice said, “’twould grieve you, would it not?
To discover that I was a most disreputable lot!
Of all unhappy sinners I’m the most unhappy one!”
The padre said, “Whatever have you been and gone and done?”

“I have helped mamma to steal a little kiddy from its dad,
I’ve assisted dear papa in cutting up a little lad.
I’ve planned a little burglary and forged a little cheque,
And slain a little baby for the coral on its neck!”

The worthy pastor heaved a sigh, and dropped a silent tear
And said, “You mustn’t judge yourself too heavily, my dear
It’s wrong to murder babies, little corals for to fleece;
But sins like these one expiates at half-a-crown apiece.

“Girls will be girls you’re very young and flighty in your mind;
Old heads upon young shoulders we must not expect to find;
We mustn’t be too hard upon these little girlish tricks
Let’s see five crimes at half-a-crown exactly twelve-and-six.”

“Oh, father,” little Alice cried, “your kindness makes me weep,
You do these little things for me so singularly cheap
Your thoughtful liberality I never can forget;
But, oh, there is another crime I haven’t mentioned yet!

“A pleasant-looking gentleman, with pretty purple eyes
I’ve noticed at my window as I’ve sat a-catching flies;
He passes by it every day as certain as can be
I blush to say I’ve winked at him, and he has winked at me!”

“For shame,” said Father Paul, “my erring daughter! On my word
This is the most distressing news that I have ever heard.
Why, naughty girl, your excellent papa has pledged your hand
To a promising young robber, the lieutenant of his band!

“This dreadful piece of news will pain your worthy parents so!
They are the most remunerative customers I know;
For many, many years they’ve kept starvation from my doors,
I never knew so criminal a family as yours!

“The common country folk in this insipid neighborhood
Have nothing to confess, they’re so ridiculously good;
And if you marry any one respectable at all,
Why, you’ll reform, and what will then become of Father Paul?”

The worthy priest, he up and drew his cowl upon his crown,
And started off in haste to tell the news to Robber Brown;
To tell him how his daughter, who was now for marriage fit,
Had winked upon a sorter, who reciprocated it.

Good Robber Brown he muffled up his anger pretty well,
He said, “I have a notion, and that notion I will tell;
I will nab this gay young sorter, terrify him into fits,
And get my gentle wife to chop him into little bits.

“I’ve studied human nature, and I know a thing or two;
Though a girl may fondly love a living gent, as many do,
A feeling of disgust upon her senses there will fall
When she looks upon his body chopped particularly small.”

He traced that gallant sorter to a still suburban square;
He watched his opportunity and seized him unaware;
He took a life-preserver and he hit him on the head,
And Mrs. Brown dissected him before she went to bed.

And pretty little Alice grew more settled in her mind,
She never more was guilty of a weakness of the kind,
Until at length good Robber Brown bestowed her pretty hand
On the promising young robber, the lieutenant of his band.

[W.S. Gilbert

EMILY, JOHN, JAMES, AND I

A Derby Legend

Emily Jane was a nursery maid
James was a bold Life Guard,
And John was constable, poorly paid
(And I am a doggerel bard).

A very good girl was Emily Jane,
Jimmy was good and true,
And John was a very good man in the main
(And I am a good man, too).

Rivals for Emmie were Johnny and James,
Though Emily liked them both;
She couldn’t tell which had the strongest claims
(And I couldn’t take my oath).

But sooner or later you’re certain to find
Your sentiments can’t lie hid
Jane thought it was time that she made up her mind
(And I think it was time she did).

Said Jane, with a smirk and a blush on her face,
“I’ll promise to wed the boy
Who takes me to-morrow to Epsom Race!”
(Which I would have done, with joy).

From Johnny escaped an expression of pain,
But Jimmy said, “Done with you!
I’ll take you with pleasure, my Emily Jane!”
(And I would have said so too).

Johnny lay on the ground, and he roared like mad
(For Johnny was sore perplexed),
And he kicked very hard at a very small lad
(Which I often do, when vexed).

For John was on duty next day with the Force,
To punish all Epsom crimes;
Some people will cross when they’re clearing the course
(I do it myself, sometimes).

The Derby Day sun glittered gaily on cads,
On maidens with gamboge hair,
On sharpers and pickpockets, swindlers and pads
(For I, with my harp, was there).

And Jimmy went down with his Jane that day
And John by the collar or nape
Seized everybody who came in his way
(And I had a narrow escape).

He noticed his Emily Jane with Jim,
And envied the well made elf;
And people remarked that he muttered “Oh, dim!”
(I often say “dim!” myself).

John dogged them all day, without asking their leaves;
For his sergeant he told, aside,
That Jimmy and Jane were notorious thieves
(And I think he was justified).

But James wouldn’t dream of abstracting a fork,
And Jenny would blush with shame
At stealing so much as a bottle or cork
(A bottle I think fair game).

But, ah! there’s another more serious crime!
They wickedly strayed upon
The course, at a critical moment of time
(I pointed them out to John).

The crusher came down on the pair in a crack
And then, with a demon smile,
Let Jenny cross over, but sent Jimmy back
(I played on my harp the while).

Stern Johnny their agony loud derides
With a very triumphant sneer
They weep and they wail from the opposite sides
(And I shed a silent tear).

And Jenny is crying away like mad,
And Jimmy is swearing hard;
And Johnny is looking uncommonly glad
(And I am a doggerel bard).

But Jimmy he ventured on crossing again
The scenes of our Isthmian Games
John caught him and collared him, giving him pain
(I felt very much for James).

John led him away with a victor’s hand,
And Jimmy was shortly seen
In the station-house under the grand Grand Stand
(As many a time I’ve been).

And Jimmy, bad boy, was imprisoned for life,
Though Emily pleaded hard;
And Johnny had Emily Jane to wife
(And I am a doggerel bard).

[W.S. Gilbert

ELLEN M’JONES ABERDEEN

Macphairson Clonglocketty Angus M’Clan
Was the son of an elderly laboring man,
You’ve guessed him a Scotchman, shrewd reader, at sight,
And p’raps altogether, shrewd reader, you’re right.

From the bonnie blue Forth to the hills of Deeside,
Round by Dingwall and Wrath to the mouth of the Clyde,
There wasn’t a child or woman or man
Who could pipe with Clonglocketty Angus M’Clan.

No other could wake such detestable groans,
With reed and with chanter with bag and with drones:
All day and all night he delighted the chiels
With sniggering pibrochs and jiggety reels.

He’d clamber a mountain and squat on the ground,
And the neighboring maidens would gather around
To list to his pipes and to gaze in his een,
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

All loved their M’Clan, save a Sassenach brute,
Who came to the Highlands to fish and to shoot!
He dressed himself up in a Highlander way,
Though his name it was Pattison Corby Torbay.

Torbay had incurred a good deal of expense
To make him a Scotchman in every sense:
But this is a matter, you’ll readily own,
That isn’t a question of tailors alone.

A Sassenach chief may be bonily built,
He may purchase a sporran, a bonnet, and kilt;
Stick a skean in his hose wear an acre of stripes
But he cannot assume an affection for pipes.

Clonglocketty’s pipings all night and all day
Quite frenzied poor Pattison Corby Torbay;
The girls were amused at his singular spleen,
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

“Macphairson Clonglocketty Angus, my lad,
With pibrochs and reels you are driving me mad;
If you really must play on that cursed affair,
My goodness! play something resembling an air.”

Boiled over the blood of Macphairson M’Clan
The clan of Clonglocketty rose as one man;
For all were enraged at the insult, I ween
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

“Let’s show,” said M’Clan, “to this Sassenach loon
That the bagpipes can play him a regular tune.
Let’s see,” said M’Clan, as he thoughtfully sat,
“‘In My Cottage’ is easy I’ll practice at that.”

He blew at his “Cottage,” and blew with a will,
For a year, seven months, and a fortnight until
(You’ll hardly believe it) M’Clan, I declare,
Elicited something resembling an air.

It was wild it was fitful as wild as the breeze
It wandered about into several keys;
It was jerky, spasmodic, and harsh, I’m aware,
But still it distinctly suggested an air.

The Sassenach screamed and the Sassenach danced,
He shrieked in his agony bellowed and pranced;
And the maidens who gathered rejoiced at the scene,
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

“Hech gather, hech gather, hech gather around;
And fill a’ yer lugs wi’ the exquisite sound,
An air frae the bagpipes beat that if ye can!
Hurrah for Clonglocketty Angus M’Clan!”

The fame of his piping spread over the land;
Respectable widows proposed for his hand,
And maidens came flocking to sit on the green
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

One morning the fidgety Sassenach swore
He’d stand it no longer he drew his claymore,
And (this was, I think, in extremely bad taste),
Divided Clonglocketty close to the waist.

Oh! loud were the wailings for Angus M’Clan
Oh! deep was the grief for that excellent man
The maids stood aghast at the horrible scene,
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

It sorrowed poor Pattison Corby Torbay
To find them “take on” in this serious way.
He pitied the poor little fluttering birds,
And solaced their souls with the following words:

“Oh, maidens,” said Pattison, touching his hat,
“Don’t snivel, my dears, for a fellow like that;
Observe, I’m a very superior man,
A much better fellow than Angus M’Clan.”

They smiled when he winked and addressed them as “dears,”
And they all of them vowed, as they dried up their tears,
A pleasanter gentleman never was seen
Especially Ellen M’Jones Aberdeen.

[W.S. Gilbert

THE SYCOPHANTIC FOX AND THE GULLIBLE RAVEN

A raven sat upon a tree,
And not a word he spoke, for
His beak contained a bit of Brie,
Or, maybe, it was Roquefort:
We’ll make it any kind you please,
At all events, it was a cheese.

Beneath the tree’s umbrageous limb
A hungry fox sat smiling;
He saw the raven watching him,
And spoke in words beguiling.
J’admire,” said he “ton beau plumage,”
(The which was simply persiflage.)

Two things there are, no doubt you know,
To which a fox is used;
A rooster that is bound to crow,
A crow that’s bound to roost,
And whichsoever he espies
He tells the most unblushing lies.

“Sweet fowl,” he said, “I understand
You’re more than merely natty,
I hear you sing to beat the band
And Adelina Patti.
Pray render with your liquid tongue
A bit from ‘Goetterdaemmerung.’”

This subtle speech was aimed to please
The crow, and it succeeded:
He thought no bird in all the trees
Could sing as well as he did.
In flattery completely doused
He gave the “Jewel Song” from “Faust.”

But gravitation’s law, of course,
As Isaac Newton showed it,
Exerted on the cheese its force.
And elsewhere soon bestowed it,
In fact, there is no need to tell
What happened when to earth it fell.

I wish to add that when the bird
Took in the situation
He said one brief, emphatic word,
Unfit for publication.
The fox was greatly startled, but
He only sighed and answered “Tut.”

The Moral is: A fox is bound
To be a shameless sinner.
And also: When the cheese comes round
You know it’s after dinner.
But (what is only known to few)
The fox is after dinner, too.

[Guy Wetmore Carryl

RED RIDINGHOOD

Most worthy of praise were the virtuous ways
Of Little Red Riding Hood’s ma,
And no one was ever more cautious and clever
Than Little Red Riding Hood’s pa.
They never misled, for they meant what they said,
And frequently said what they meant:
They were careful to show her the way she should go,
And the way that they showed her, she went.
For obedience she was effusively thanked,
And for anything else she was carefully spanked.

It thus isn’t strange that Red Riding Hood’s range
Of virtues so steadily grew,
That soon she won prizes of different sizes,
And golden enconiums, too.
As a general rule she was head of her school,
And at six was so notably smart
That they gave her a check for reciting The Wreck
Of the Hesperus wholly by heart.
And you all will applaud her the more, I am sure,
When I add that the money she gave to the poor.

At eleven this lass had a Sunday-school class,
At twelve wrote a volume of verse,
At fourteen was yearning for glory, and learning
To be a professional nurse.
To a glorious height the young paragon might
Have climbed, if not nipped in the bud,
But the following year struck her smiling career
With a dull and a sickening thud!
(I have shad a great tear at the thought of her pain,
And must copy my manuscript over again!)

Not dreaming of harm, one day on her arm
A basket she hung. It was filled
With drinks made of spices, and jellies, and ices,
And chicken-wings, carefully grilled,
And a savory stew, and a novel or two
She persuaded a neighbor to loan,
And a Japanese fan, and a hot water-can.
And a bottle of eau de cologne,
And the rest of the things that your family fill
Your room with whenever you chance to be ill.

She expected to find her decrepit but kind
Old grandmother waiting her call,
Exceedingly ill. Oh, that face on the pillow
Did not look familiar at all!
With a whitening cheek she started to speak,
But her peril she instantly saw:
Her grandma had fled and she’d tackled instead
Four merciless paws and a maw!
When the neighbors came running the wolf to subdue
He was licking his chops and Red Riding Hood’s, too!

At this horrible tale some readers will pale,
And others with horror grow dumb,
And yet it was better, I fear, he should get her:
Just think what she might have become!
For an infant so keen might in future have been
A woman of awful renown,
Who carried on fights for her feminine rights,
As the Mare of an Arkansas town,
Or she might have continued the sin of her ’teens
And come to write verse for the Big Magazines!

The Moral

The Moral: There’s nothing much glummer
Than children whose talents appal.
One much prefers those that are dumber,
And as for the paragons small
If a swallow cannot make a summer.
It can bring on a summary fall!

[Guy Wetmore Carryl

A NAUTICAL BALLAD

A capital ship for an ocean trip,
Was the “Walloping Window-blind”;
No gale that blew dismayed her crew
Or troubled the captain’s mind.
The man at the wheel was taught to feel
Contempt for the wildest blow,
And it often appeared, when the weather had cleared,
That he’d been in his bunk below.

“The boatswain’s mate was very sedate,
Yet fond of amusement, too;
And he played hop-scotch with the starboard watch,
While the captain tickled the crew.
And the gunner we had was apparently mad,
For he sat on the after rail,
And fired salutes with the captain’s boots,
In the teeth of the booming gale.

“The captain sat in a commodore’s hat
And dined in a royal way
On toasted pigs and pickles and figs
And gummery bread each day.
But the cook was Dutch and behaved as such;
For the diet he gave the crew
Was a number of tons of hot-cross buns
Prepared with sugar and glue.

“All nautical pride we laid aside,
And we cast the vessel ashore
On the Gulliby Isles, where the Poohpooh smiles,
And the Rumbletumbunders roar.
And we sat on the edge of a sandy ledge
And shot at the whistling bee;
And the cinnamon-bats wore water-proof hats
As they danced in the sounding sea.

“On rubgub bark, from dawn to dark,
We fed, till we all had grown
Uncommonly shrunk, when a Chinese junk
Came by from the torriby zone.
She was stubby and square, but we didn’t much care,
And we cheerily put to sea;
And we left the crew of the junk to chew
The bark of the rubgub tree.”

[Charles E. Carryl

THE PLAINT OF THE CAMEL

“Canary-birds feed on sugar and seed,
Parrots have crackers to crunch:
And, as for the poodles, they tell me the noodles
Have chickens and cream for their lunch.
But there’s never a question
About MY digestion
Anything does for me!

“Cats, you’re aware, can repose in a chair,
Chickens can roost upon rails;
Puppies are able to sleep in a stable,
And oysters can slumber in pails.
But no one supposes
A poor Camel dozes
Any place does for me!

“Lambs are enclosed where it’s never exposed,
Coops are constructed for hens:
Kittens are treated to houses well heated,
And pigs are protected by pens.
But a Camel comes handy
Wherever it’s sandy
Anywhere does for me!

“People would laugh if you rode a giraffe,
Or mounted the back of an ox;
It’s nobody’s habit to ride on a rabbit,
Or try to bestraddle a fox.
But as for a Camel, he’s
Ridden by families
Any load does for me!

“A snake is as round as a hole in the ground,
And weasels are wavy and sleek;
And no alligator could ever be straighter
Than lizards that live in a creek,
But a Camel’s all lumpy
And bumpy and humpy
Any shape does for me!”

[Charles E. Carryl

CHILD’S NATURAL HISTORY

Geese

Ev-er-y child who has the use
Of his sen-ses knows a goose.
Sees them un-der-neath the tree
Gath-er round the goose-girl’s knee,
While she reads them by the hour
From the works of Scho-pen-hau-er.
How pa-tient-ly the geese at-tend!
But do they re-al-ly com-pre-hend
What Scho-pen-hau-er’s driving at?
Oh, not at all; but what of that?
Nei-ther do I; nei-ther does she;
And, for that matter, nor does he.

A Seal

See, children, the Furbearing Seal;
Ob-serve his mis-di-rect-ed zeal;
He dines with most ab-ste-mi-ous care
On Fish, Ice Water and Fresh Air
A-void-ing cond-i-ments or spice
For fear his fur should not be nice
And fine and soft and smooth and meet
For Broad-way or for Re-gent Street,
And yet some-how I often feel
(Though for the kind Fur-bear-ing Seal
I harbor a Re-spect Pro-found)
He runs Fur-bear-ance in the ground.

The Ant

My child, ob-serve the use-ful Ant,
How hard she works each day.
She works as hard as ad-a-mant
(That’s very hard, they say).
She has no time to gall-i-vant;
She has no time to play.
Let Fido chase his tail all day;
Let Kitty play at tag;
She has no time to throw away,
She has no tail to wag;
She scurries round from morn till night;
She nev-er nev-er sleeps;
She seiz-es ev-ery-thing in sight,
She drags it home with all her might,
And all she takes she keeps.

The Yak

This is the Yak, so negligee;
His coif-fure’s like a stack of hay;
He lives so far from Any-where,
I fear the Yak neglects his hair.
And thinks, since there is none to see,
What mat-ter how un-kempt he be:
How would he feel if he but knew
That in this Picture-book I drew
His Phys-i-og-no-my un-shorn,
For children to de-ride and scorn?

[Oliver Herford

[From “A Child’s Primer of Natural History.” Copyright, 1899, by Oliver Herford, Chas. Scribner’s Sons, Publishers]

ALPHABET OF CELEBRITIES

E is for Edison, making believe
He’s invented a clever contrivance for Eve,
Who complained that she never could laugh in her sleeve.

O is for Oliver, casting aspersion
On Omar, that awfully dissolute Persian,
Though secretly longing to join the diversion.

R’s Rubenstein, playing that old thing in F
To Rollo and Rembrandt, who wish they were deaf.

S is for Swinburne, who, seeking the true,
The good, and the beautiful, visits the Zoo,
Where he chances on Sappho and Mr. Sardou,
And Socrates, all with the same end in view.

W’s Wagner, who sang and played lots,
For Washington, Wesley and good Dr. Watts;
His prurient plots pained Wesley and Watts,
But Washington said he “enjoyed them in spots.”

[Oliver Herford

NONSENSE VERSES

1

The Window has Four little Panes:
But One have I;
The Window-Panes are in its sash,
I wonder why!

2

My Feet they haul me ’round the House:
They hoist me up the Stairs;
I only have to steer them and
They ride me everywheres.

3

Remarkable truly, is Art!
See Elliptical wheels on a Cart!
It looks very fair
In the Picture up there;
But imagine the Ride when you start!

4

I’d rather have fingers than Toes;
I’d rather have Ears than a Nose:
And as for my hair,
I’m glad it’s all there,
I’ll be awfully sad when it goes!

5

I wish that my Room had a floor;
I don’t so much care for a Door,
But this walking around
Without touching the ground
Is getting to be quite a bore!

[Gelett Burgess

VERS NONSENSIQUES

I am gai. I am poet. I dvell
Rupert Street, at the fifth. I am svell.
And I sing tralala
And I love my mamma,
And the English, I speaks him quite well!

2

“Cassez-vous, cassez-vous, cassez-vous,
O mer, sur vos froids gris cilloux!”
Ainsi traduisit Laure
Au profit d’Isadore
(Bon jeune homme, et son futur epoux.)

3

Il existe une espinstere a Tours
Un peu vite, et qui portait toujours
Un ulster peau-de-phoque,
Un chapeau bilicoque,
Et des nicrebocquers en velours.

4

Un marin naufrage (de Doncastre)
Pour prière, au milieu du désastre
Repetait a genoux
Ces mots simples et doux:
“Scintellez, scintellez, petit astre!”

[George du Maurier

NONSENSE VERSES

1

There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck:
When they said, “Are you friz?”
He replied, “Yes I is
But we don’t call this cold in Quebec!”

[Rudyard Kipling

2

There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp:
When they asked, “Does it hurt?”
He replied, “No it doesn’t,
But I thought all the while ’twas a Hornet!”

[W.S. Gilbert

VARIA.

1

There was an old man of Tarentum
Who gnashed his false teeth till he bent ’em;
And when asked for the cost
Of what he had lost,
Said, “I really can’t tell, for I rent ’em!”

2

A lady there was of Antigua,
Who said to her spouse, “What a pig you are!”
He answered, “My queen
Is it manners you mean,
Or do you refer to my figure?”

3

There were three young women of Birmingham,
And I know a sad story concerning ’em;
They stuck needles and pins
In the right rev’rend shins
Of the Bishop engaged in confirming ’em!