Archive for ‘Humour’

Friday, 27 December 2019

On the Thirteenth Day of Christmas My True Love Phoned Me Up . . . by Dave Calder

Well, I suppose I should be grateful, you’ve obviously gone
to a lot of trouble and expense – or maybe off your head.
Yes, I did like the birds – the small ones anyway were fun
if rather messy, but now the hens have roosted on my bed
and the rest are nested on the wardrobe. It’s hard to sleep
with all that cooing, let alone the cackling of the geese
whose eggs are everywhere, but mostly in a broken smelly heap
on the sofa. No, why should I mind? I can’t get any peace
anywhere – the lounge is full of drummers thumping tom-toms
and sprawling lords crashed out from manic leaping. The
kitchen is crammed with cows and milkmaids and smells of a million stink-bombs
and enough sour milk to last a year. The pipers? I’d forgotten them –
they were no trouble, I paid them and they went. But I can’t get rid
of these young ladies. They won’t stop dancing or turn the music down
and they’re always in the bathroom, squealing as they skid
across the flooded floor. No, I don’t need a plumber round,
it’s just the swans – where else can they swim? Poor things,
I think they’re going mad, like me. When I went to wash my
hands one ate the soap, another swallowed the gold rings.
And the pear tree died. Too dry. So thanks for nothing, love. Goodbye.

From: Calder, Dave, A Big Bunch of Poems, 2010, Other Publications, Liverpool, p. [unnumbered]
(http://www.windowsproject.net/downlds/bigbunch.pdf)

Date: 2010

By: Dave Calder (19??- )

Friday, 20 December 2019

The Ballad of Private Chadd by Alan Alexander Milne

I sing of George Augustus Chadd,
Who’d always from a baby had
A deep affection for his Dad —
In other words, his Father;
Contrariwise, the father’s one
And only treasure was his son,
Yes, even when he’d gone and done
Things which annoyed him rather.

For instance, if at Christmas (say)
Or on his parent’s natal day
The thoughtless lad forgot to pay
The customary greeting.
His father’s visage only took
That dignified reproachful look
Which dying beetles give the cook
Above the clouds of Keating.

As years went on such looks were rare;
The younger Chadd was always there
To greet his father and to share
His father’s birthday party;
The pink “For auld acquaintance sake”
Engraved in sugar on the cake
Was his. The speech he used to make
Was reverent but hearty.

The younger Chadd was twentyisih
When War broke out, but did not wish
To get an A.S.C. commish
Or be a rag-time sailor;
Just Private Chadd he was, and went
To join his Dad’s old regiment,
While Dad (the dear old dug-out) sent
For red tabs from the tailor.

To those inured to war’s alarms
I need not dwell upon the charms
Of raw recruits when sloping arms.
Nor tell why Chadd was hoping
That, if his sloping-powers increased.
They’d give him two days’ leave at least
To join his Father’s birthday feast . . .
And so resumed his sloping.

One morning on the training ground.
When fixing bayonets, he found
The fatal day already round.
And, even as he fixed, he
Decided then and there to state
To Sergeant Brown (at any rate)
His longing to congratulate
His sire on being sixty.

“Sergeant,” he said, “we’re on the eve
Of Father’s birthday; grant me leave”
(And here his bosom gave a heave)
“To offer him my blessing;
And, if a Private’s tender thanks —
Nay, do not blank my blanky blanks!
I could not help but leave the ranks;
Birthdays are more than dressing.”

The Sergeant was a kindly soul.
He loved his men upon the whole.
He’d also had a father’s rôle
Pressed on him fairly lately.
“Brave Chadd,” he said, “thou speakest sooth!
O happy day! O pious youth!
Great,” he extemporized, “is Truth,
And it shall flourish greatly.”

The Sergeant took him by the hand
And led him to the Captain, and
The Captain tried to understand.
And (more or less) succeeded;
“Correct me if you don’t agree.
But one of you wants what?” said he,
And George Augustus Chadd said, “Me!”
Meaning of course that he did.

The Captain took him by the ear
And gradually brought him near
The Colonel, who was far from clear.
But heard it allpolitely.
And asked him twice, “You want a what?
The Captain said that he did not.
And Chadd saluted quite a lot
And put the matter rightly.

The Colonel took him by the hair
And furtively conveyed him where
The General inhaled the air,
Immaculately booted;
Then said,“ Unless I greatly err
This Private wishes to prefer
A small petition to you. Sir,”
And so again saluted.

The General inclined his head
Towards the two of them and said,
“Speak slowly, please, or shout instead;
I’m hard of hearing, rather.”
So Chadd, that promising recruit.
Stood to attention, clicked his boot.
And bellowed, with his best salute,
A happy birthday, Father!

From: Milne, A. A., The Sunny Side, 1922, E. P. Dutton & Company: New York, pp. 150-153.
(https://archive.org/details/in.ernet.dli.2015.168192/)

Date: 1922

By: Alan Alexander Milne (1882-1956)

Thursday, 19 December 2019

Help Wanted by Timothy Tocher

Santa needs new reindeer.
The first bunch has grown old.
Dasher has arthritis;
Comet hates the cold.
Prancer’s sick of staring
at Dancer’s big behind.
Cupid married Blitzen
and Donder lost his mind.
Dancer’s mad at Vixen
for stepping on his toes.
Vixen’s being thrown out—
she laughed at Rudolph’s nose.
If you are a reindeer
we hope you will apply.
There is just one tricky part:
You must know how to fly.

From: https://www.panmacmillan.com/blogs/literary/our-favourite-christmas-poems

Date: 1991

By: Timothy Tocher (19??- )

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Three Brothers by Joyce Irene Phipps Grenfell

I had three Brothers,
Harold and Robert and James,
All of them tall and handsome,
All of them good at games.
And I was allowed to field for them,
To bowl to them, to score:
I was allowed to slave for them
For ever and evermore.
Oh, I was allowed to fetch and carry
For my Three Brothers,
Jim and Bob and Harry.

All of my brothers,
Harry and Jim and Bob,
Grew up to be good and clever,
Each of them at his job.
And I was allowed to wait on them,
To be their slave complete.
I was allowed to work for them,
And life for me was sweet,
For I was allowed to fetch and carry
For my Three Brothers,
Jim and Bob and Harry.

Jim went out to South Africa,
Bob went out to Ceylon.
Harry went out to New Zealand
And settled in Wellington.
And the grass grew high on the cricket pitch,
And the tennis court went to hay,
And the place was too big and too silent
After they went away.
So I turned it into a Guest House
After our parents died,
And I wrote to the boys every Sunday,
And once a year they replied.
All of them married eventually,
I wrote to their wives, of course,
And their wives wrote back on postcards –
Well… it might have been very much worse.

And now I have nine nieces,
Most of them home at school.
I have them all to stay here
For the holidays as a rule.
And I am allowed to slave for them,
To do odd jobs galore.
I am allowed to work for them,
And life is sweet once more,
For I am allowed to fetch and carry
For the children of Jim and Bob and Harry.

From: https://www.monologues.co.uk/First_Ladies/Three_Brothers.htm

Date: 1954

By: Joyce Irene Phipps Grenfell (1910-1979)

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

Peace. A Study by Charles Stuart Calverley

He stood, a worn-out City clerk —
Who’d toil’d, and seen no holiday,
For forty years from dawn to dark —
Alone beside Caermarthen Bay.
He felt the salt spray on his lips;
Heard children’s voices on the sands;
Up the sun’s path he saw the ships
Sail on and on to other lands;
And laugh’d aloud. Each sight and sound
To him was joy too deep for tears;
He sat him on the beach, and bound
A blue bandana round his ears
And thought how, posted near his door,
His own green door on Camden Hill,
Two bands at least, most likely more,
Were mingling at their own sweet will
Verdi with Vance. And at the thought
He laugh’d again, and softly drew
That Morning Herald that he’d bought
Forth from his breast, and read it through.

From: https://mypoeticside.com/show-classic-poem-5015

Date: 1890

By: Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884)

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Chaos by Gerard Nolst Trenité

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpsecorpshorse and worse.

I will keep you, Susybusy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you’ll tear;
Queer, fair seerhear my prayer.

Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!
Just compare hearthear and heard,
Dies and dietlord and word.

Sword and swardretain and Britain
(Mind the latter how it’s written).
Made has not the sound of bade,
Saysaidpaypaidlaid but plaid.

Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as vague and ague,
But be careful how you speak,
Say: gush, bush, steak, streak, break, bleak ,

Previous, precious, fuchsia, via
Recipe, pipe, studding-sail, choir;
Wovenovenhow and low,
Scriptreceiptshoepoemtoe.

Say, expecting fraud and trickery:
Daughterlaughter and Terpsichore,
Branch, ranch, measlestopsailsaisles,
Missilessimilesreviles.

Whollyhollysignalsigning,
Sameexamining, but mining,
Scholarvicar, and cigar,
Solarmicawar and far.

From “desire”: desirableadmirable from “admire”,
Lumberplumberbier, but brier,
Topshambroughamrenown, but known,
Knowledgedonelonegonenonetone,

OneanemoneBalmoral,
Kitchenlichenlaundrylaurel.
GertrudeGermanwind and wind,
Beau, kind, kindred, queuemankind,

Tortoiseturquoisechamois-leather,
Reading, Readingheathenheather.
This phonetic labyrinth
Gives mossgrossbrookbroochninthplinth.

Have you ever yet endeavoured
To pronounce revered and severed,
Demon, lemon, ghoul, foul, soul,
Peter, petrol and patrol?

Billet does not end like ballet;
Bouquetwalletmalletchalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.

Banquet is not nearly parquet,
Which exactly rhymes with khaki.
Discountviscountload and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward,

Ricocheted and crochetingcroquet?
Right! Your pronunciation’s OK.
Roundedwoundedgrieve and sieve,
Friend and fiendalive and live.

Is your r correct in higher?
Keats asserts it rhymes Thalia.
Hugh, but hug, and hood, but hoot,
Buoyantminute, but minute.

Say abscission with precision,
Now: position and transition;
Would it tally with my rhyme
If I mentioned paradigm?

Twopence, threepence, tease are easy,
But cease, crease, grease and greasy?
Cornice, nice, valise, revise,
Rabies, but lullabies.

Of such puzzling words as nauseous,
Rhyming well with cautious, tortious,
You’ll envelop lists, I hope,
In a linen envelope.

Would you like some more? You’ll have it!
Affidavit, David, davit.
To abjure, to perjureSheik
Does not sound like Czech but ache.

Libertylibraryheave and heaven,
Rachellochmoustacheeleven.
We say hallowed, but allowed,
Peopleleopardtowed but vowed.

Mark the difference, moreover,
Between moverploverDover.
Leechesbreecheswiseprecise,
Chalice, but police and lice,

Camelconstableunstable,
Principledisciplelabel.
Petalpenal, and canal,
Waitsurmiseplaitpromisepal,

SuitsuiteruinCircuitconduit
Rhyme with “shirk it” and “beyond it”,
But it is not hard to tell
Why it’s pallmall, but Pall Mall.

Musclemusculargaoliron,
Timberclimberbullionlion,
Worm and stormchaisechaoschair,
Senatorspectatormayor,

Ivyprivyfamousclamour
Has the a of drachm and hammer.
Pussyhussy and possess,
Desert, but desertaddress.

Golfwolfcountenancelieutenants
Hoist in lieu of flags left pennants.
Courier, courtier, tombbombcomb,
Cow, but Cowper, some and home.

Solder, soldier! Blood is thicker“,
Quoth he, “than liqueur or liquor“,
Making, it is sad but true,
In bravado, much ado.

Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Pilot, pivot, gaunt, but aunt,
Fontfrontwontwantgrand and grant.

Arsenic, specific, scenic,
Relic, rhetoric, hygienic.
Gooseberry, goose, and close, but close,
Paradise, rise, rose, and dose.

Say inveigh, neigh, but inveigle,
Make the latter rhyme with eagle.
MindMeandering but mean,
Valentine and magazine.

And I bet you, dear, a penny,
You say mani-(fold) like many,
Which is wrong. Say rapier, pier,
Tier (one who ties), but tier.

Arch, archangel; pray, does erring
Rhyme with herring or with stirring?
Prison, bison, treasure trove,
Treason, hover, cover, cove,

Perseverance, severance. Ribald
Rhymes (but piebald doesn’t) with nibbled.
Phaeton, paean, gnat, ghat, gnaw,
Lien, psychic, shone, bone, pshaw.

Don’t be down, my own, but rough it,
And distinguish buffetbuffet;
Brood, stood, roof, rook, school, wool, boon,
Worcester, Boleyn, to impugn.

Say in sounds correct and sterling
Hearse, hear, hearken, year and yearling.
Evil, devil, mezzotint,
Mind the z! (A gentle hint.)

Now you need not pay attention
To such sounds as I don’t mention,
Sounds like pores, pause, pours and paws,
Rhyming with the pronoun yours;

Nor are proper names included,
Though I often heard, as you did,
Funny rhymes to unicorn,
Yes, you know them, Vaughan and Strachan.

No, my maiden, coy and comely,
I don’t want to speak of Cholmondeley.
No. Yet Froude compared with proud
Is no better than McLeod.

But mind trivial and vial,
Tripod, menial, denial,
Troll and trolleyrealm and ream,
Schedule, mischief, schism, and scheme.

Argil, gill, Argyll, gill. Surely
May be made to rhyme with Raleigh,
But you’re not supposed to say
Piquet rhymes with sobriquet.

Had this invalid invalid
Worthless documents? How pallid,
How uncouth he, couchant, looked,
When for Portsmouth I had booked!

Zeus, Thebes, Thales, Aphrodite,
Paramour, enamoured, flighty,
Episodes, antipodes,
Acquiesce, and obsequies.

Please don’t monkey with the geyser,
Don’t peel ‘taters with my razor,
Rather say in accents pure:
Nature, stature and mature.

Pious, impious, limb, climb, glumly,
Worsted, worsted, crumbly, dumbly,
Conquer, conquest, vase, phase, fan,
Wan, sedan and artisan.

The th will surely trouble you
More than rch or w.
Say then these phonetic gems:
Thomas, thyme, Theresa, Thames.

Thompson, Chatham, Waltham, Streatham,
There are more but I forget ’em
Wait! I’ve got it: Anthony,
Lighten your anxiety.

The archaic word albeit
Does not rhyme with eight-you see it;
With and forthwith, one has voice,
One has not, you make your choice.

Shoes, goes, does *. Now first say: finger;
Then say: singer, ginger, linger.
Realzealmauve, gauze and gauge,
Marriagefoliagemirageage,

Hero, heron, query, very,
Parry, tarry fury, bury,
Dostlostpost, and dothclothloth,
JobJobblossombosomoath.

Faugh, oppugnant, keen oppugners,
Bowingbowing, banjo-tuners
Holm you know, but noes, canoes,
Puisnetruismuse, to use?

Though the difference seems little,
We say actual, but victual,
SeatsweatchastecasteLeigheightheight,
Putnutgranite, and unite.

Reefer does not rhyme with deafer,
Feoffer does, and zephyrheifer.
DullbullGeoffreyGeorgeatelate,
Hintpintsenate, but sedate.

GaelicArabicpacific,
Scienceconsciencescientific;
Tour, but our, dour, succourfour,
Gasalas, and Arkansas.

Say manoeuvre, yacht and vomit,
Next omit, which differs from it
Bona fide, alibi
Gyrate, dowry and awry.

Seaideaguineaarea,
PsalmMaria, but malaria.
Youthsouthsoutherncleanse and clean,
Doctrineturpentinemarine.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion with battalion,
Rally with allyyeaye,
EyeIayayewheykeyquay!

Say aver, but everfever,
Neitherleisureskeinreceiver.
Never guess-it is not safe,
We say calvesvalveshalf, but Ralf.

Starry, granarycanary,
Crevice, but device, and eyrie,
Face, but preface, then grimace,
Phlegmphlegmaticassglassbass.

Basslargetargetgingiveverging,
Oughtoust, joust, and scour, but scourging;
Ear, but earn; and ere and tear
Do not rhyme with here but heir.

Mind the o of off and often
Which may be pronounced as orphan,
With the sound of saw and sauce;
Also soft, lost, cloth and cross.

Pudding, puddle, puttingPutting?
Yes: at golf it rhymes with shutting.
Respite, spite, consent, resent.
Liable, but Parliament.

Seven is right, but so is even,
HyphenroughennephewStephen,
Monkeydonkeyclerk and jerk,
Aspgraspwaspdemesnecorkwork.

A of valour, vapid vapour,
S of news (compare newspaper),
G of gibbet, gibbon, gist,
I of antichrist and grist,

Differ like diverse and divers,
Rivers, strivers, shivers, fivers.
Once, but nonce, toll, doll, but roll,
Polish, Polish, poll and poll.

Pronunciation-think of Psyche!-
Is a paling, stout and spiky.
Won’t it make you lose your wits
Writing groats and saying “grits”?

It’s a dark abyss or tunnel
Strewn with stones like rowlockgunwale,
Islington, and Isle of Wight,
Housewifeverdict and indict.

Don’t you think so, reader, rather,
Saying latherbatherfather?
Finally, which rhymes with enough,
Thoughthroughboughcoughhoughsough, tough??

Hiccough has the sound of sup
My advice is: GIVE IT UP!

From: http://ncf.idallen.com/english.html

Date: 1922

By: Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870-1946)

Monday, 5 August 2019

Women’s Chorus from “Thesmophoriazusae [Women at the Thesmophoria]” by Aristophanes

They’re always abusing the women,
As a terrible plague to men:
They say we’re the root of all evil,
And repeat it again and again;
Of war, and quarrels, and bloodshed,
All mischief, be what it may:
And pray, then, why do you marry us,
If we’re all the plagues you say?{145}
And why do you take such care of us,
And keep us so safe at home,
And are never easy a moment,
If ever we chance to roam?
When you ought to be thanking heaven
That your Plague is out of the way—
You all keep fussing and fretting—
“Where is my Plague to-day?”
If a Plague peeps out of the window,
Up go the eyes of the men;
If she hides, then they all keep staring
Until she looks out again.

From: Collins, W. Lucas, Aristophanes, 1872, William Blackwood and Sons: Edinburgh and London, pp. 144-145.
(https://www.gutenberg.org/files/59107/59107-h/59107-h.htm#CHAPTER_VIII)

Date: 411 BCE (original in Greek); 1872 (translation in English)

By: Aristophanes (c446-c386 BCE)

Translated by: William Lucas Collins (1815-1887)

Saturday, 25 May 2019

Introductory Remarks by Edmund Clerihew Bentley

The Art of Biography
Is different from Geography.
Geography is about Maps,
But Biography is about Chaps..

From: Clerihew, E., Biography for Beginners, Being a Collection of Miscellaneous Examples for the Use of Upper Forms, 1905, T. Werner Laurie: London, p. [unnumbered].
(https://archive.org/details/cu31924029786427/)

Date: 1905

By: Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956)

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

First Part of “A Voyage to Marryland; or, The Ladies Dressing-Room” by Mary Evelyn

He that will needs to Marry-Land
Adventure, first must understand
For’s Bark, what Tackle to prepare,
‘Gainst Wind and Weather, wear and tare:
Of Point d’Espagne, a Rich Cornet,
Two Night-Rails, and a Scarf beset
With a great Lace, a Colleret.
One black Gown of Rich Silk, which odd is
Without one Colour’d, Embroider’d Bodice:
Four Petticoats for Page to hold up,
Four short ones nearer to the Crup:
Three Manteaus, nor can Madam less
Provision have for due undress;
Nor demy Sultane, Spagnolet,
Nor Fringe to sweep the Mall forget,
Of under Bodice three neat pair
Embroider’d, and of Shoos as fair:
Short under Petticoats pure fine,
Some of Japan Stuff, some of Chine,
With Knee-high Galoon bottomed,
Another quilted White and Red;
With a broad Flanders Lace below:
Four pair of Bas de soy shot through
With Silver, Diamond Buckles too,
For Garters, and as Rich for Shoo.
Twice twelve day Smocks of Holland fine,
With Cambric Sleeves, rich Point to joyn,
(For she despises Colbertine.)
Twelve more for night, all Flanders lac’d,
Or else she’ll think her self disgrac’d:
The same her Night-Gown must adorn,
With Two Point Wastcoats for the Morn:
Of Pocket Mouchoirs Nose to drain,
A dozen lac’d, a dozen plain:
Three Night-Gowns of rich Indian Stuff,
Four Cushion Cloths are scarce enough,
Of Point, and Flanders, not forget
Slippers embroidered on Velvet:
Manteau Girdle, Ruby Buckle,
And Brillant Diamond Rings for Knuckle:
Fans painted, and perfumed three;
Three Muffs of Sable, Ermine, Grey;
Nor reckon it among the Baubles,
Palatine also of Sables.
A Saphire Bodkin for the Hair,
Or sparkling Facet Diamond there:
Then Turquois, Ruby, Emrauld Rings
For Fingers, and such petty things;
As Diamond Pendants for the Ears,
Musts needs be had, or two Pearl Pears,
Pearl Neck-lace, large and Oriental,
And Diamond, and of Amber pale;
For Oranges bears every Bush,
Nor values she cheap things a rush.
Then Bracelets for her Wrists bespeak,
(Unless her Heart-strings you will break)
With Diamond Croche for Breast and Bum,
Till to hang more on there’s no room.
Besides these Jewels you must get
Cuff Buckles, and an handsom Set
Of Tags for Palatine, a curious Hasp
The Manteau ’bout her Neck to clasp:
Nor may she want a Ruby Locket,
Nor the fine sweet quilted Pocket;
To play at Ombre, or Basset,
She a rich Pulvil Purse must get,
With Guineas fill’d, on Cards to lay,
With which she fancies most to play:
Nor is she troubled at ill fortune,
For should the bank be so importune,
To rob her of her glittering Store,
The amorous Fop will furnish more.
Pensive and mute, behind her shoulder
He stands, till by her loss grown bolder,
Into her lap Rouleau conveys,
The softest thing a Lover says:
She grasps it in her greedy hands,
Then best his Passion understands;
When tedious languishing has fail’d,

From: Evelyn, Mary, Mundus muliebris: or, The ladies dressing-room unlock’d, and her toilette spread In burlesque. Together with the fop-dictionary, compiled for the use of the fair sex, 2003, Text Creation Partnership: Ann Arbor, Michigan and Oxford, pp. 2-5.
(http://name.umdl.umich.edu/A38815.0001.001)

Date: 1690 (published)

By: Mary Evelyn (1665-1685)

Friday, 8 March 2019

Plain Living and High Thinking by Lucian of Samosata

Stern Cynicus doth war austerely wage
With endive, lentils, chicory, and sage;
Which shouldst thou thoughtless proffer, “Wretch,” saith he,
“Wouldst thou corrupt my life’s simplicity?”
Yet is not his simplicity so great
But that he can digest a pomegranate;
And peaches, he esteems, right well agree
With Spartan fare and sound philosophy.

From: Garnett, Richard, Vallée, Leon and Brandl, Alois (eds.), The Universal Anthology: A Collection of the Best Literature, Ancient, Mediaeval and Modern, with Biographical and Explanatory Notes, Volume 5, 1899, The Clarke Company Ltd: London, p. 97.
(https://archive.org/details/universalantholo05garnuoft/)

Date: 2nd century (original in Greek); 1869 (translation in English)

By: Lucian of Samosata (c125-c180)

Translated by: Richard Garnett (1835-1906)