Archive for ‘Humour’

Sunday, 12 April 2020

Meeting the Easter Bunny by Rowena Bastin Bennett

On Easter morn at early dawn
before the cocks were crowing
I met a bob-tail bunnykin
and asked where he was going.

“Tis in the house and out the house
a-tispy, tipsy-toeing,
Tis round the house and ’bout the house
a-lightly I am going.”

“But what is that of every hue
you carry in your basket?”
“Tis eggs of gold and eggs of blue;
I wonder that you ask it.

“Tis chocolate eggs and bonbon eggs
and eggs of red and gray,
For every child in every house
on bonny Easter day.”

He perked his ears and winked his eye
and twitched his little nose;
He shook his tail—what tail he had—
and stood up on his toes.

“I must be gone before the sun;
the east is growing gray;
Tis almost time for bells to chime.”—
So he hippety-hopped away.


Date: 1930

By: Rowena Bastin Bennett (1896-1981)

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Cupid Lost and Cried by Jacob Cats

The Child of Venus, wanton, wild,
The slyest rogue that ever smiled,
Had lately strayed—where? who shall guess?
His mother pines in sad distress;—

She calls the boy, she sighs, complains,
But still no news of Cupid gains:
For though her sorrow grows apace,
None knows the urchin’s resting-place.
She therefore vows the boy shall be
Cried o’er the country speedily:

“If there be any who can tell
Where little Cupid’s wont to dwell,
A fit reward he shall enjoy
If he track out the truant boy;
His recompense a fragrant kiss
From Venus’ ruby mouth of bliss;
But he who firmly holds the knave
Shall yet a sweeter guerdon have.
And lest ye should mistake the wight,
List to his form described aright:—
He is a little wayward thing
That’s panoplied on fiery wing;
Two pinions, like a swan, he carries,
And never for an instant tarries,
But now is here and now is there,
And couples many a curious pair.
His eyes like two bright stars are glowing,
And ever sidelong glances throwing:
He bears about a crafty bow,
And wounds before the wounded know:
His dart, though gilt to please the view,
Is dipp’d in bitter venom too:
His body, though ’tis bare to sight,
Has overthrown full many a knight:
His living torch, though mean and small,
Oft makes the hardiest warrior fall;
The highest dames with care invades,
And spares not e’en the tenderest maids;—
Nay, what is worse than all the rest,
He sometimes wounds his mother’s breast.

If such an urchin should be found,
Proclaim the joyous news around;
And should the boy attempt to fly,
O seize him, seize him daringly.
But if you have the child at last,
Be careful that you hold him fast,
Or else the roving bird he’ll play,
And vanish in thin air away;
And if he seem to pine and grieve,
You must not heed him— nor believe—
Nor trust his tears and feign’d distress,
His winning glance and bland caress;
But watch his cheek when dimples wreathe it,
And think that evil lurks beneath it;
For under his pretended smile
Are veil’d the deepest craft and guile.
If he a kiss should offer, shun
The proffer’d gift, or be undone;
His ruby lips thy heart would sentence
To brief delight, but long repentance:
But if the cunning boy will give
His dart to you—Oh! ne’er receive,
If you would hope for blissful years,
The present that so fair appears:
It is no pledge of love— but shame,
And danger and destroying flame.
Then, friends—to speak with brevity—
This wholesome warning take from me:
Let those who seize the wily ranger
Be on their guard ’gainst many a danger;
For, if they venture too securely,
Misfortunes will assail them surely;
And if they trust the boy in aught,
The catchers will themselves be caught.”

From: Bowring, John and van Dyk, Harry S., Batavian Anthology; or, Specimens of the Dutch Poets; with remarks on the poetical literature and language of the Netherlands, to the end of the Seventeenth century, 1824, Taylor and Hessey: London, pp. 74-77.

Date: 1625 (original in Dutch); 1824 (translation in English)

By: Jacob Cats (1577-1660)

Translated by: John Bowring (1792-1872) and Harry Stoe van Dyk (1798-1828)

Monday, 9 March 2020

To the Learned Gentleman Jacob Cats by Anna Roemers Visscher

When Phoebus yesterday had freed his weary steeds
From all the trappings of the race, and slowly eased
His head of burnished gold beneath the rim of sea,
Then I recalled I’d promised you some poetry.
I took my notebook, pen and ink, and duly put
My mind to writing. First the book kept falling shut.
The qull proved blunt, and when I tried to sharpen it,
The penknife slipped and gave my hand a painful cut.
The paper blotted through – the quality of ink
Was poor. I had no way to trim my candlewick,
No snuffers that would help me keep its low flame fed.
Death’s sister then appeared and dragged me off to bed.
And so, my learned friend, it was for my own good
That I should fail; for soon Dissatisfaction stood
Before me in a dream and showed me that my verse
Was crippled, limp and lame. Pale Envy made things worse:
‘You think you’re Homer!’ came her mocking sneer.
Black Slander followed, calling out for all to hear:
‘Your readers will be bored!’ At last Good Sense appeared
And said: ‘Just keep those lines you wrote well hid from view,
For then no one will envy, mock or slander you.’

From: van Gemert, Lia; Joldersma, Hermina; van Marion, Olga; van der Poel, Dieuwke; and Schenkeveld-van der Dussen, Riet (eds.), Women’s Writing from the Low Countries 1200-1875: A Bilingual Anthology, 2010, Amsterdam University Press: Amsterdam, p. 239.

Date: 1623 (original in Dutch); 2010 (translation in English)

By: Anna Roemers Visscher (1584-1652)

Translated by: Myra Heerspink Scholz (19??- )

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Holy Wars by Robert Schechter

Do even numbers, when they pray,
give thanks unto their God
that unlike all their neighbors they
were not created odd?

If so, is there a second God
some integers believe in
to whom the reverential odd
give thanks that they’re not even?


Date: 2014

By: Robert Schechter (19??- )

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Three Things by Baltasar del Alcázar

There are three things my captive heart
forever dotes upon:
beautiful Inez, smoked ham,
and eggplant parmesan.

Oh lovers, it was sweet Inez
whose power over me
was such I actually despised
whatever was not she.

She made me sense­less for a year.
In truth, I was far gone,
until one day she served me ham
and eggplant parmesan.

Inez was first to win my heart,
but now I’d be hard-pressed
to choose among the three of them
the one I love the best.

In taste, proportion, and in weight,
I’ve nothing to go on:
I love Inez, I love smoked ham,
and eggplant parmesan.

Inez can boast of beauty,
the ham of Southern Spain,
the tender aubergine can boast
of Spanish soil and rain.

The competition is so close,
no winner can be drawn.
They all are one. Inez, the ham,
the eggplant parmesan.

At least, now that she knows that I
love other things as deeply,
Inez might sell me favors much
more often and more cheaply,

since there is now a counterweight
for her to reckon on:
a luscious slab of Spanish ham
and eggplant parmesan.


Date: (original in Spanish); 2017 (translation in English)

By: Baltasar del Alcázar (1530-1606)

Translated by: Robert Schechter (19??- )

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]

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.

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.


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.


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.


Date: 1890

By: Charles Stuart Calverley (1831-1884)