Archive for ‘Humour’

Friday, 23 June 2017

Save Water, Prodike by Rufinus

Save water, Prodike-
bath with a friend!
We’ll crown each other with foam,
and knock back some champagne.
We haven’t all that long
before our wrinkles mean
we’re past our shag-by date –
not just that the water is too hot.


Date: ?3rd century (original in Greek); 2005 (translation in English)

By: Rufinus (?3rd century)

Translated by: Neil Philip (19??-)

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Riddle XVI [The Bookworm] by Caelius Firmanius Symphosius

I thrive on letters yet no letters know,
I live in books, the made more studious so,
Devour the Muses, but no wiser grow.


Date: ?5th century (original in Latin); 1912 (translation in English)

By: Caelius Firmanius Symphosius (?5th century)

Translated by: Elizabeth Hickman du Bois Peck (1870-19??)

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Burlesque on a Letter Written by a Lawyer, to a Very Young Girl at School, and Sent by a Very Ragged Old Woman by Henrietta Fleming Battier

Copy of the Letter, verbatim.

“My dear Miss,
“What day will you come to Irishtown–
“I languish for that pleasure—you may depend
“upon the strictest honour and delicacy,

To that audacious, unknown fribble,
Who dar’d to send an odious quibble,
Which treated of mysterious matters,
By an old Woman all in tatters;
Writes she, who hates impertinence,
And wonders at his lack of sense,
With words ambiguous to bewilder,
The heads of undesigning childer;
And tho’ his delicacy’s honour,
May languish to impose upon her,
She here begs leave to let him know,
To Irishtown she will not go,
Nor stir the heel-rand of her shoe,
To visit there—She knows not who.

From: Battier, Henrietta, The Protected Fugitives. A Collection of Miscellaneous Poems, the Genuine Productions of a Lady, Never Before Published, 1791, James Porter: Dublin, pp. 22-23.

Date: 1783

By: Henrietta Fleming Battier (c1751-1813)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

To My Cigar by Charles Sprague

Yes, social friend, I love thee well,
In learned doctors’ spite;
Thy clouds all other clouds dispel,
And lap me in delight.

By thee, they cry, with phizzes long,
My years are sooner passed;
Well, take my answer, right or wrong,
They’re sweeter while they last.

And oft, mild friend, to me thou art
A monitor, though still;
Thou speak’st a lesson to my heart
Beyond the preacher’s skill.

Thou ‘rt like the man of worth, who gives
To goodness every day,
The odor of whose virtue lives
When he has passed away.

When, in the lonely evening hour,
Attended but by thee,
O’er history’s varied page I pore,
Man’s fate in thine I see.

Oft as thy snowy column grows,
Then breaks and falls away,
I trace how mighty realms thus rose.
Thus tumbled to decay.

Awhile like thee the hero burns,
And smokes and fumes around,
And then, like thee, to ashes turns,
And mingles with the ground.

Life’s but a leaf adroitly rolled,
And time’s the wasting breath.
That late or early, we behold.
Gives all to dusty death.

From beggar’s frieze to monarch’s robe,
One common doom is passed;
Sweet Nature’s works, the swelling globe,
Must all burn out at last.

And what is he who smokes thee now? —
A little moving heap,
That soon like thee to fate must bow,
With thee in dust must sleep.

But though thy ashes downward go,
Thy essence rolls on high;
Thus, when my body must lie low,
My soul shall cleave the sky.


Date: 1829

By: Charles Sprague (1791-1875)

Sunday, 16 April 2017

One More Time by Margaret Hillert

I can’t believe. I don’t believe.
I simply, simply won’t believe
A rabbit comes at Easter time
To bring us eggs-

But then,

I do believe that you believe,
And there are others who believe,
And so perhaps for one more time,
I’ll make believe again.


Date: 1978

By Margaret Hillert (1920-2014)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Epigram [As Two Divines, Their Ambling Steeds Bestriding] by “Cam.”

As two Divines, their ambling steeds bestriding,
In merry mood o’er Boston neck were riding,
At length a simple structure met their sight,
From which the felon takes his hempen flight,
When, sailor like, he squares accounts with hope,
His all depending on a single rope;
“Ah where, my friend,” cried one, “where now were you
Had yonder gallows been allowed its due?”
Where,” said the other in sarcastic tone,
“Why where —but riding into town alone.”

From: Lewis, Paul (ed.), The Citizen Poets of Boston. A Collection of Forgotten Poems, 1789-1820, University Press of New England: Hanover and London, p. 33.

Date: 1796

By: “Cam.” (fl. 1796)

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Medical Recipe by John Swanwick Drennan

By a patient too fair sate a doctor too young,
With eyes more intent on her lips, than her tongue;
He tested her heart, as its pulse’s recorder,
But, alas! in his own was the latent disorder;
And soon from the region in which it was bred,
That sad “tremor cordis” so muddled his head,
That instead of some physic to mend her condition,
He urg’d as a recipe, take your Physician!

From: Drennan, William and Drennan, John Swanwick, Glendalloch, and Other Poems, by the Late Dr. Drennan, Second Edition, with Additional Verses by his Sons, 1859, William Robertson: Dublin, p. 113.

Date: 1859

By: John Swanwick Drennan (1809-1893)

Saturday, 4 February 2017

A Quatrain on Dyeing the Hair by Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki

Not for this reason, black my hair I dye.
To look more young and vices new to try ;
People in time of grief don raiment black —
I black my hair in grief at old age nigh.

From: Jackson, A. V. Williams, Early Persian Poetry: From the Beginnings Down to the Time of Firdausi, 1920, The MacMillan Company: New York, p. 41.

Date: 10th century (original in Arabic); 1920 (translation in English)

By: Abu Abdollah Jafar ibn Mohammad Rudaki (858-c941)

Translated by: Abraham Valentine Williams Jackson (1862-1937)

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

“Early to Bed” by Mary Mapes Dodge

Early to bed and early to rise:
If that would make me wealthy and wise
I’d rise at daybreak, cold or hot,
And go back to bed at once. Why not?


Date: 1874

By: Mary Mapes Dodge (1831-1905)

Friday, 20 January 2017

Prologue to “The Man of Mode or, Sir Fopling Flutter – A Comedy” by Carr Scrope

Like dancers on the ropes poor poets fare,
Most perish young, the rest in danger are;
This, one would think, should make our authors wary,
But, gamester like, the giddy fools miscarry.
A lucky hand or two so tempts ’em on,
They cannot leave off play till they’re undone.
With modest fears a muse does first begin,
Like a young wench newly enticed to sin;
But tickled once with praise, by her good will,
The wanton fool would never more lie still.
’Tis an old mistress you’ll meet here to-night,
Whose charms you once have look’d on with delight;
But now of late such dirty drabs have known ye,
A muse o’th’ better sort’s ashamed to own ye.
Nature well drawn, and wit, must now give place
To gaudy nonsense and to dull grimace:
Nor is it strange that you should like so much
That kind of wit, for most of yours is such.
But I’m afraid that while to France we go,
To bring you home fine dresses, dance, and show,
The stage, like you, will but more foppish grow.
Of foreign wares why should we fetch the scum
When we can be so richly served at home?
For, heaven be thank’d, ’tis not so wise an age
But your own follies may supply the stage.
Though often plough’d, there’s no great fear the soil
Should barren grow by the too frequent toil,
While at your doors are to be daily found
Such loads of dunghill to manure the ground.
’Tis by your follies that we players thrive,
As the physicians by diseases live;
And as each year some new distemper reigns,
Whose friendly poison helps t’increase their gains,
So among you there starts up every day
Some new unheard-of fool for us to play.
Then for your own sakes be not too severe,
Nor what you all admire at home, damn here:
Since each is fond of his own ugly face,
Why should you, when we hold it, break the glass?

From: Etherege, Sir George, The Man of Mode or, Sir Fopling Flutter – A Comedy by George Etherege 1676, 2009, Eithin Acting Edition, p. 3.

Date: 1676

By: Carr Scrope (1649-1680)