Archive for ‘Humour’

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

A Rum Effect by Robert (George) Howe

“My wife’s so very bad” cry’d Phill‐‐‐
“I fear she’ll never hold it,”
“She ᴋᴇᴇᴘꜱ her bed” “Mine’s worse”
said Will‐‐‐
“The Jade this morning ꜱᴏʟᴅ it.”

From: ‘A Rum Effect’ in The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 12 Mar 1803, p. 4.

Date: 1803

By: Robert (George) Howe (1769-1821)

Friday, 4 June 2021

Wearing Corks by Thomas Henry Wilson

There’s a pesky sort o’ glimmerin‘ in the thin white track ahead, 
And the salt lake seems a-shimmerin‘ like a sea o’ melted lead. 
Ain’t a blessed twig a-stirrin‘—ain’t a livin thing but flies; 
They keep buzzin‘ and a-whirrin‘ at the corks afore my eyes. 
Yes; I’ve got them on at last, 
An’ they’re just the things as talks. 
Don’t give tuppence for the past— 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
From Fremantle out to Morgans, and from Morgans further back, 
Where the desert ends the goldfields and the devil ends the track, 
Swallowing mullock from the shaker, gettin fat on cyanide, 
An’ a gettin‘ through it somehow—p’rhaps where better men have died. 
Bet I often got weak-hearted; 
Pretty nigh wiped off me chalks; 
All broke up—until I started 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
In the days of wine and women that we always say we’ve had, 
Guess it wasn’t always swimmin‘; sometimes sinking took us bad. 
If we supped off stout and oysters, took a woman to the play, 
We’d a “head” an’ empty pockets—she’d another chap—next day. 
But the night has never fled, 
And, the morrow never baulks, 
And you’ve women, wine, and bed— 
Wearin‘ Corks! 
Here’s the “soak”; I’ll light a fire; nicest day I ever felt . 
(Handy piece of fencing wire; do me nicely for a belt.) 
Think I hear a dingo howling—that sounds homely, just alright. 
Guess I know some chap in Sydney’d like to be with me to-night, 
In the city some may scoff, 
But I know—experience talks— 
There’d be thousands better off 
Wearin‘ Corks. 
From: ‘Rhymers’ Refuge’ in Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902-1954), Sunday, 8 March 1903, p. 10. 
Date: 1903 
By: Thomas Henry Wilson (1867-1925)

Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Some Little Bug by John Leroy “Roy” Atwell

In these days of indigestion
It is oftentimes a question
As to what to eat and what to leave alone;
For each microbe and bacillus
Has a different way to kill us,
And in time they always claim us for their own.
There are germs of every kind
In any food that you can find
In the market or upon the bill of fare.
Drinking water’s just as risky
As the so-called deadly whiskey,
And it’s often a mistake to breathe the air.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
Then he’ll send for his bug friends
And all your earthly trouble ends;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

The inviting green cucumber
Gets most everybody’s number,
While the green corn has a system of its own;
Though a radish seems nutritious
Its behaviour is quite vicious,
And a doctor will be coming to your home.
Eating lobster cooked or plain
Is only flirting with ptomaine,
While an oyster sometimes has a lot to say,
But the clams we cat in chowder
Make the angels chant the louder,
For they know that we’ll be with them right away.

Take a slice of nice fried onion
And you’re fit for Dr. Munyon,
Apple dumplings kill you quicker than a train.
Chew a cheesy midnight “rabbit”
And a grave you’ll soon inhabit
Ah, to eat at all is such a foolish game.
Eating huckleberry pie
Is a pleasing way to die,
While sauerkraut brings on softening of the brain.
When you eat banana fritters
Every undertaker titters,
And the casket makers nearly go insane.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
With a nervous little quiver
He’ll give cirrhosis of the liver;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

When cold storage vaults I visit
I can only say what is it
Makes poor mortals fill their systems with such stuff?
Now, for breakfast, prunes are dandy
If a stomach pump is handy
And your doctor can be found quite soon enough.
Eat a plate of fine pigs’ knuckles
And the headstone cutter chuckles,
While the grave digger makes a note upon his cuff.
Eat that lovely red bologna
And you’ll wear a wooden kimona,
As your relatives start scrappin ’bout your stuff.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day,
Eating juicy sliced pineapple
Makes the sexton dust the chapel;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.

All those crazy foods they mix
Will float us ‘cross the River Styx,
Or they’ll start us climbing up the milky way.
And the meals we eat in courses
Mean a hearse and two black horses
So before a meal some people always pray.
Luscious grapes breed ‘pendicitis,
And the juice leads to gastritis,
So there’s only death to greet us either way;
And fried liver’s nice, but, mind you,
Friends will soon ride slow behind you
And the papers then will have nice things to say.

Some little bug is going to find you some day,
Some little bug will creep behind you some day
Eat some sauce, they call it chili,
On your breast they’ll place a lily;
Some little bug is going to find you some day.


Date: 1915

By: John Leroy “Roy” Atwell (1878-1962)

Sunday, 4 April 2021

Easter Habits by Felice Holman

Around now,
they think of rabbits.
(I don’t know why.)

tend to think
of sprouting roots
of grasses blowing.

They think
of rabbit ears and rabbit tails.
(And I do, too, I guess.)

but not just now.
I think of rabbits running,
rabbits growing.

Yet, when the bells
start pealing in the steeple,
it is my habit
(since I’m a rabbit)
to think of people.

From: Livington, Myra Cohn (ed.), Easter Poems, 1985, Holiday House: New York, p. 11.

Date: 1970

By: Felice Holman (1919- )

Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Alexander’s Feast: an Ode by John Wolcot (Peter Pindar)

Timotheus now, in music handy,
Struck up a tune call’d — Drops of Brandy;
The hero pulls out Thais to the dance:
Timotheus now struck up a reel;
The couple skipp’d with nimble heel,
Then sat them down, and drank a quart of Nantz.

Now did the master of the lyre
On dancing exercise his fire.
He sung of hops at court, and wakes, and fairs;
He sung of dancing dogs, and dancing bears;
He prais’d the minuet of Nan Catley,
And lumps of pudding, and Moll Pately:
The king grew proud, and soon began to reel,
A hopping inspiration seiz’d his heel.

Bravi, bravi, the soldier crowd
In admiration cry’d aloud.
The lady dances like a bold Thalestris,
And Alexander hops like Monsieur Vestris.
Again, so furiously they dance a jig,
The lady lost her cap, the hero lost his wig.

The motley mob, behind, before,
Exclaim’d — encore! encore! encore!
Proud of th’ applause, and justly vain,
Thais made a curtsey low,
Such as court ladies make before the queen.
Alexander made a bow,
Such as the royal levee oft has seen,
And then they danc’d the reel again.

Of vast applause the couple vain,
Delighted, danc’d the reel again:
Now in, and now out,
They skipp’d it about,
As tho’ they felt the madness of the moon;
Such was the power of Timothy and tune.

When the dub a dub, a dub dub drum,
In triumph behind e’m beat — Go to bed, Tom.

And now in their ire,
Return’d from the fire,
In revenge for the Greeks that were dead,
The king and his punk
Got most horribly drunk,
And together went reeling to bed.


Date: 1808

By: John Wolcot (Peter Pindar) (1738-1819)

Friday, 26 February 2021

A Riverain Rhyme by Joseph Ashby-Sterry

Beside the river in the rain—
The sopping sky is leaden grey—
I watch the drops run down the pane!

Assuming the Tapleyan vein—
I sit and drone a dismal lay—
Beside the river in the rain!

With pluvial patter for refrain;
I’ve smoked the very blackest clay;
I watch the drops run down the pane.

I’ve gazed upon big fishes slain,
That on the walls make brave display,
Beside the river in the rain.

It will not clear, ’tis very plain,
The rain will last throughout the day—
I watch the drops run down the pane.

I almost feel my boundless brain
At last shows signs of giving way;
Beside the river in the rain.

O, never will I stop again—
No more will I attempt to stay,
Beside the river in the rain,
To watch the drops run down the pane!

From: Ashby-Sterry, J., The Lazy Minstrel (Third Edition), 1887, T. Fisher Unwin: London, pp. 78-79.

Date: 1886

By: Joseph Ashby-Sterry (1836 or 1838-1917)

Sunday, 21 February 2021

A Man Said to the Universe by Stephen Crane

A man said to the universe:
“Sir, I exist!”
“However,” replied the universe,
“The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation.”


Date: 1899

By: Stephen Crane (1871-1900)

Wednesday, 17 February 2021

The Adventures of Samuel and Selina by Jean C. Archer

In Spring,
While softly cooed
The Dove,
Told Selina of
His Love.

The Summer Moon
smiled on them both,
Selina plighted him her Troth.

But Autumn brought a gayer
Selina broke it off again.

‘Tis Winter now—
Selina’s slack—
She’d give her thumbs to have
him back.

When they met
She tossed her head;
Stared at her and
Cut her dead!

But Fate at last to them was
It sent

Just as Sam was passing by,
Blew off Selina’s Hat!
Oh! My!

Caught it—by a daring

Thump! Thump!! Thump!!!

“Oh, Sam! ” she cried;
Tears dimmed her sight—
And after that it all came

They made it up and very
They started on their Honey-

Selina proved a model wife,
Her Sam was all her joy in
She fetched his shoes and
darned his hose,
And sympathized with all his

As she let him have his say,
He loved her more from day
to day ;

And—on her birthday—for a
Took her to the Menagerie.

She revelled in the Monkey
Where Apes, of motley hue,
Each jumped—upon a yellow
All shining and brand new.

And picture, children, how the
Rejoiced her frugal mind;
They ate the Buns, they ate
the Bag,
And even stale cheese rind.

The Jub-jub birds Selina fed,
But they were rude and
They fought and scratched,
Nor would they stop
When they had had enough.

At last,
When happy, hot and

They found no more to see,
Sam took her to a shady spot
And treated her to tea.

Selina’s hat and dress he
She clapped his feeblest
It was a perfect carnival
Of sentiment and Buns!

Much time, alas! they cannot
Since holidays are few;
Soon, hand in hand, they start
To seek adventures new.

And all about along the
Stern “Cautions” they
“You need not fear,” said
“While I, my love, am

Alas! how brief are mortal
There comes an awful burbling

As, terror-struck, he turns to
Too late he hears her
anguished cry,
“O Samuel!
O Samuel!!
The awful

The Camel rushed!
The Camel flew !
Till all its spots were streaks
of blue;
To Samuel it seemed to be
Itself a whole

The Camel chased him round
and round;
He sank—exhausted—on the
The Camel never noticed that,
But pranced along—
with Sammy’s hat.

And—when it found its victim
Imagine how the brute went
It bucked and reared
and kicked
and shied,
Till, finally,
and died.

When Sammy heard the loud
And saw the pieces fly,
He felt that sure as eggs was
He, too, must surely die.

But brave Selina, though
her tears
Fell all the while like
Washed off the dirt and
set him up
Upon his feet again.

She found the remnants of his
And led him to the gate ;
But there the Camel’s owner
As large and grim as fate.

Before they left, that
greedy man
Took all the cash they
And turned their pockets
(Which made Selina mad).

How different their coming
From their gay start at
They creep along—a sorry
Bedraggled and forlorn.

He knows he showed a
want of pluck,
Whatever she may say;
She feels that it was all
her fault
For having a birthday.

But—once at home—the
ruddy blaze
Each drooping spirit cheers;
Sam sets Selina by the fire
And wipes away her tears.

He draws her closer to
his side;
He tootles on a comb,
And sings her, as her
sobs subside,
A verse of
“Home, Sweet Home.”

From: Archer, Jean C., The Adventures of Samuel and Selina, 1902, Grant Richards: London.

Date: 1902

By: Jean C. Archer (fl. 1902-1903)

Monday, 30 November 2020

The Whippoorwill and I by Horatio Alger, Junior

In the hushed hours of night, when the air is quite still,
I hear the strange cry of the lone whippoorwill,
Who chants, without ceasing, that wonderful trill,
Of which the sole burden is still, “Whip-poor-Will.”

And why should I whip him? Strange visitant, say,
Has he been playing truant this long summer day?
I listened a moment; more clear and more shrill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what has poor Will done? I ask you once more;
I’ll whip him, don’t fear, if you’ll tell me what for.
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Has he come to your dwelling, by night or by day,
And snatched the young birds from their warm nest away?
I paused for an answer; o’er valley and hill
Rang the voice of the bird, as he cried, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, well, I can hear you, don’t have any fears,
I can hear what is constantly dinned in my ears.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made but one answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

But what has poor Will done? I prithee explain;
I’m out of all patience, don’t mock me again.
The obstinate bird, with his wonderful trill,
Still made but one answer, and that, “Whip-poor-Will.”

Well, have your own way, then; but if you won’t tell,
I’ll shut down the window, and bid you farewell;
But of one thing be sure, I won’t whip him until
You give me some reason for whipping poor Will.

I listened a moment, as if for reply,
But nothing was heard but the bird’s mocking cry.
I caught the faint echo from valley and hill;
It breathed the same burden, that strange “Whip-poor-Will.”


Date: 1853

By: Horatio Alger, Junior (1832-1899)

Tuesday, 25 August 2020

The Last Straw by Rudolph Chambers Lehmann

I sing the sofa! It had stood for years,
An invitation to benign repose,
A foe to all the fretful brood of fears,
Bidding the weary eye-lid sink and close.
Massive and deep and broad it was and bland—
In short the noblest sofa in the land.

You, too, my friend, my solid friend, I sing,
Whom on an afternoon I did behold
Eying—’twas after lunch—the cushioned thing,
And murmuring gently, “Here are realms of gold,
And I shall visit them,” you said, “and be
The sofa’s burden till it’s time for tea.”

“Let those who will go forth,” you said, “and dare,
Beyond the cluster of the little shops,
To strain their limbs and take the eager air,
Seeking the heights of Hedsor and its copse.
I shall abide and watch the far-off gleams
Of fairy beacons from the world of dreams.”

Then forth we fared, and you, no doubt, lay down,
An easy victim to the sofa’s charms,
Forgetting hopes of fame and past renown,
Lapped in those padded and alluring arms.
“How well,” you said, and veiled your heavy eyes,
“It slopes to suit me! This is Paradise.”

So we adventured to the topmost hill,
And, when the sunset shot the sky with red,
Homeward returned and found you taking still
Deep draughts of peace with pillows ‘neath your head.
“His sleep,” said one, “has been unduly long.”
Another said, “Let’s bring and beat the gong.”

“Gongs,” said a third and gazed with looks intent
At the full sofa, “are not adequate.
There fits some dread, some heavy, punishment
For one who sleeps with such a dreadful weight.
Behold with me,” he moaned, “a scene accurst.
The springs are broken and the sofa’s burst!”

Too true! Too true! Beneath you on the floor
Lay blent in ruin all the obscure things
That were the sofa’s strength, a scattered store
Of tacks and battens and protruded springs.
Through the rent ticking they had all been spilt,
Mute proofs and mournful of your weight and guilt.

And you? You slept as sweetly as a child,
And when you woke you recked not of your shame,
But babbled greetings, stretched yourself and smiled
From that eviscerated sofa’s frame,
Which, flawless erst, was now one mighty flaw
Through the addition of yourself as straw.

From: Lehmann, R C, The Vagabond and Other Poems from Punch, 1918, John Lane, The Bodley Head: London, p. 102.

Date: 1914

By: Rudolph Chambers Lehmann (1856-1929)