Archive for ‘Nonsense’

Monday, 27 June 2016

Beneath the Sea by Maud Keary

Were I a fish beneath the sea,
Shell‐paved and pearl‐brocaded,
Would you come down and live with me,
In groves by coral shaded?

No washing would we have to do;
Our cushions should be sponges—
And many a great ship’s envious crew
Should watch our merry plunges!

From: Keary, Maud, Enchanted Tulips and Other Verses for Children, 1914, Macmillan and Co: London, p. 6.

Date: 1914

By: Maud Keary (18??-19??)

Sunday, 19 June 2016

To Emily at Her Own Home, from the Cat by Anna Maria (Annie) Keary

Dear Emily, your letter came
Directed right to me,
And when John took it at the door,
A puzzled man was he—

“A letter for the Cat!—why, such
A thing was never heard!”
Then Jane came out and looked, and long
The two together purred.

I do not think they were quite pleased
Such honour should be done
To me—for Jane laughed loud and said,
“It’s just Miss Emmie’s fun;

“I’ll take it to her Grandmama,”
And then—though right before
Her feet I stood—she hurried on,
And shut the parlour door

Right in my face—I could have scratched
And torn the parlour mat,
Only that would have been too like
A common, vulgar cat,

Which I am not—as well you know.
I waited patiently,
And soon I heard dear Grandmama
Calling aloud for me.

“Open the door for Puss,” said she;
I sprang upon her knee;
Then, quite out loud, she kindly read
Your lovely note to me.

And all the while I purred and purred,
Or softly said, “Mew, mew”;
With grown‐up people in the room
’Twas all that I could do

To show how, at each friendly word,
My cat’s heart swelled with pride;
And yet some sadness came therewith,
The news that you had cried.

I did not cry—in Cat‐dom we
Don’t think it etiquette
To wash our faces when we grieve,
And make our whiskers wet.

Yet none the less I truly shared
The sadness of the house;
I think ’twas a whole week before
I’d heart to catch a mouse.

I even thought the cream was sour,
I lost my appetite,
I caterwauled upon the roof
So dismally at night

That spiteful neighbour Green sent in
(He’s a low taste for dogs)—
And begged that Grandmama would put
My feet in walnut clogs!

I grew morose, I spat at John,
Put up my back at Jane,
But your kind letter makes me feel
A happy cat again.

When you come back in Spring, I’ll learn
To count my paws, and you
Perhaps might condescend to try
A few things I can do.

Your way of climbing up a wall
Strikes me as not—the thing,
And though you’re nimble, you might take
A lesson how to spring.

What’s more, if you are not above
Hearing a cat’s advice,
In time you might be brought to feel
More justly about mice.

You’ve hurt my feelings now and then,
But I forgive you that—
So—count among your warmest friends
Your Grandmama’s

Grey Cat.

From: Keary, Maud, Enchanted Tulips and Other Verses for Children, 1914, Macmillan and Co: London, pp. 52-55.

Date: c1865

By: Anna Maria (Annie) Keary (1825-1879)

Monday, 23 November 2015

The Butterfly’s Ball, and the Grasshopper’s Feast by William Roscoe

Come take up your Hats, and away let us haste
To the Butterfly’s Ball, and the Grasshopper’s Feast.
The Trumpeter, Gad-fly, has summon’d the Crew,
And the Revels are now only waiting for you.

So said little Robert, and pacing along,
His merry Companions came forth in a Throng.
And on the smooth Grass, by the side of a Wood,
Beneath a broad Oak that for Ages had stood,

Saw the Children of Earth, and the Tenants of Air,
For an Evening’s Amusement together repair.
And there came the Beetle, so blind and so black,
Who carried the Emmet, his Friend, on his Back.

And there was the Gnat and the Dragon-fly too,
With all their Relations, Green, Orange, and Blue.
And there came the Moth, with his Plumage of Down,
And the Hornet in Jacket of Yellow and Brown;

Who with him the Wasp, his Companion, did bring,
But they promis’d, that Evening, to lay by their Sting.
And the sly little Dormouse crept out of his Hole,
And brought to the Feast his blind Brother, the Mole.

And the Snail, with his Horns peeping out of his Shell,
Came from a great Distance, the Length of an Ell.
A Mushroom their Table, and on it was laid
A Water-dock Leaf, which a Table-cloth made.

The Viands were various, to each of their Taste,
And the Bee brought her Honey to crown the Repast.
Then close on his Haunches, so solemn and wise,
The Frog from a Corner, look’d up to the Skies.

And the Squirrel well pleas’d such Diversions to see,
Mounted high over Head, and look’d down from a Tree.
Then out came the Spider, with Finger so fine,
To shew his Dexterity on the tight Line.

From one Branch to another, his Cobwebs he slung,
Then quick as an Arrow he darted along,
But just in the Middle, — Oh! shocking to tell,
From his Rope, in an Instant, poor Harlequin fell.

Yet he touch’d not the Ground, but with Talons outspread,
Hung suspended in Air, at the End of a Thread,
Then the Grasshopper came with a Jerk and a Spring,
Very long was his Leg, though but short was his Wing;

He took but three Leaps, and was soon out of Sight,
Then chirp’d his own Praises the rest of the Night.
With Step so majestic the Snail did advance,
And promis’d the Gazers a Minuet to dance.

But they all laugh’d so loud that he pull’d in his Head,
And went in his own little Chamber to Bed.
Then, as Evening gave Way to the Shadows of Night,
Their Watchman, the Glow-worm, came out with a Light.

Then Home let us hasten, while yet we can see,
For no Watchman is waiting for you and for me.
So said little Robert, and pacing along,
His merry Companions returned in a Throng.


Date: 1806

By: William Roscoe (1753-1831)

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Where Do These Words Come From? by Charlotte Pomerantz

Hominy, succotash, raccoon, moose.
Succotash, raccoon, moose, papoose.
Raccoon, moose, papoose, squash, skunk.
Moose, papoose, squash, skunk, chipmunk.
Papoose, squash, skunk, chipmunk, muckamuck.
Skunk, chipmunk, muckamuck, woodchuck.


Date: 1982

By: Charlotte Pomerantz (1930- )

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

The Witch by John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs

Judy Cracko–she was a witch,
And lived in a muddy, smelly ditch:

But when the moon shone bright, she’d fly
On a tatty old broomstick, up in the sky,

With the bats, and the owls, and the booboo birds,
Shouting out loud the most horrible words,

Like Botheration, and Bottom, and Belly,
And Nurts and Nark it and Not on your Nelly!

Now the judge, Mr Justice Fuzzywig,
And the village policeman, Constable Pigg,

And Major Wilberforce Wotherspoon,
And a lady called Miss Prissy La Prune,

Put their heads together, and vowed
That sort of behaviour should not be allowed.

So they locked her up in a dungeon dim,
With her one-eyed pussycat, Smoky Jim.

But she didn’t stay long in that prison cell-
She muttered a rather difficult spell:

Then seven red devils, with horns and tails,
And seldom manicured finger-nails,

And each with one great donkey’s hoof,
Whirled Judy and Jim through a hole in the roof,

Over the seas and far away
To an island eastward of Cathay;
She’s living there still, to this very day.


Date: 1990

By: John Francis Alexander Heath-Stubbs (1918-2006)

Monday, 23 February 2015

A Legend of Camelot – Part 1 by George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier

Tall Braunighrindas left her bed
At cock-crow with an aching head.
O miserie!
“I yearn to suffer and to do,”
She cried, “ere sunset, something new!
O miserie!
“To do and suffer, ere I die,
I care not what. I know not why.
O miserie!
“Some quest I crave to undertake,
Or burden bear, or trouble make.”
O miserie!
She shook her hair about her form
In waves of colour bright and warm.
O miserie!
It rolled and writhed, and reached the floor
A silver wedding-ring she wore.
O miserie!
She left her tower, and wandered down
Into the High Street of the town.
O miserie!
Her pale feet glimmered, in and out,
Like tombstones as she went about.
O miserie!
From right to left, and left to right;
And blue veins streakt her insteps white;
O miserie!
And folks did ask her in the street
“How fared it with her long pale feet?”
O miserie!
And blinkt, as though ’twere hard to bear
The red-heat of her blazing hair!
O miserie!
Sir Galahad and Sir Launcelot
Came hand-in-hand down Camelot;
O miserie!
Sir Gauwaine followed close behind;
A weight hung heavy on his mind.
O miserie!
“Who knows this damsel, burning bright,”
Quoth Launcelot, “like a northern light”?
O miserie!
Quoth Sir Gauwaine “I know her not!”
“Who quoth you did?” quoth Launcelot.
O miserie!
“’Tis Braunighrindas!” quoth Sir Bors.
(Just then returning from the wars.)
O miserie!
Then quoth the pure Sir Galahad
“She seems, methinks, but lightly clad!
O miserie!
“The winds blow somewhat chill to-day.
Moreover, what would Arthur say!”
O miserie!
She thrust her chin towards Galahad
Full many an inch beyond her head. . . .
O miserie!
But when she noted Sir Gauwaine
She wept, and drew it in again!
O miserie!
She wept “How beautiful am I!”
He shook the poplars with a sigh.
O miserie!
Sir Launcelot was standing near;
Him kist he thrice behind the ear.
O miserie!
“Ah me!” sighed Launcelot where he stood,
“I cannot fathom it!” . . . (who could?)
O miserie!
Hard by his wares a weaver wove,
And weaving with a will, he throve;
O miserie!
Him beckoned Galahad, and said,—
“Gaunt Braunighrindas wants your aid . . .
O miserie!
“Behold the wild growth from her nape!
Good weaver, weave it into shape!”
O miserie!
The weaver straightway to his loom
Did lead her, whilst the knights made room;
O miserie!
And wove her locks, both web and woof,
And made them wind and waterproof;
O miserie!
Then with his shears he opened wide
An arm-hole neat on either side,
O miserie!
And bound her with his handkerchief
Right round the middle like a sheaf.
O miserie!
“Are you content, knight?” quoth Sir Bors
To Galahad; quoth he, “Of course!”
O miserie!
“Ah, me! those locks,” quoth Sir Gauwaine,
“Will never know the comb again!”
O miserie!
The bold Sir Launcelot quoth he nought;
So (haply) all the more he thought.
O miserie!


Date: 1866

By: George Louis Palmella Busson du Maurier (1834-1896)

Friday, 6 February 2015

Joy to the World by Hoyt Wayne Axton

Jeremiah was a bullfrog
He was a good friend of mine
I never understood a single word he said
But I helped him drink his wine
And he always had some mighty fine wine.

Singin’ joy to the world, now
All the boys and girls, now
Joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea
Joy to you and me.

If I were the King of the world
Tell you what I’d do
I’d throw away the cars and the bars and the wars
Make sweet love to you.


You know I love the ladies
Love to have my fun
I’m a high night flier and a rainbow rider
A straight-shootin’ son of a gun.
I said a straight shootin’ son of a gun.



Date: 1970

By: Hoyt Wayne Axton (1938-1999)

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Strictly Germ-Proof by Arthur Guiterman

The Antiseptic Baby and the Prophylactic Pup
Were playing in the garden when the Bunny gamboled up;
They looked upon the Creature with a loathing undisguised; —
It wasn’t Disinfected and it wasn’t Sterilized.

They said it was a Microbe and a Hotbed of Disease;
They steamed it in a vapor of a thousand-odd degrees;
They froze it in a freezer that was cold as Banished Hope
And washed it in permanganate with carbolated soap.

In sulphurated hydrogen they steeped its wiggly ears;
They trimmed its frisky whiskers with a pair of hard-boiled shears;
They donned their rubber mittens and they took it by the hand
And ‘lected it a member of the Fumigated Band.

There’s not a Micrococcus in the garden where they play;
They bathe in pure iodoform a dozen times a day;
And each imbibes his rations from a Hygienic Cup —
The Bunny and the Baby and the Prophylactic Pup.


Date: 1915

By: Arthur Guiterman (1871-1943)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

The Mistake by Richard Jago

On Captain Bluff. 1750.

Says a Gosling almost frighten’d out of her wits,
‘Help, mother, or else I shall go into fits.
I have had such a fright, I shall never recover,
O! that Hawk that you’ve told us of over and over.
See there, where he sits, with his terrible face,
And his coat how it glitters all over with lace.
With his sharp hooked nose, and his sword at his heel,
How my heart it goes pit-a-pat; pray, mother, feel.’

Says the Goose, very gravely, ‘Pray don’t talk so wild;
Those looks are as harmless as mine are, my child.
And, as for his sword there, so bright and so nice,
I’ll be sworn ‘twill hurt nothing besides frogs and mice.
Nay, prithee, don’t hang so about me, let loose,
I tell thee he dares not say – bo to a Goose.
In short there is not a more innocent fowl,
Why, instead of a Hawk, look ye, child, ‘tis an Owl.’

From: The British Poets including Translations in One Hundred Volumes. Volume LV – The Poems of. Gray and Jago, 1822, C. Whittingham: Chiswick, p. 240.

Date: 1750

By: Richard Jago (1715-1781)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Obstinate Cow by William Brighty Rands

This, if you please, is the Obstinate Cow, —
It all befell I will tell you how;
And that, if you please, is the Resolute Boy, —
He tugs at her tail, and he shouts, “Ahoy!”

It stands to reason, if you but think,
That the milk of an Obstinate Cow to drink
Must make a fellow grow obstinate —
There they are by the Manor-house gate

He breakfasted, year after year,
On the milk of the cow that you see here;
Her name is Dapple, his name is Jim;
He pulls the cow, and the cow pulls him.

On the gate of the Manor-house may be read
That trespassers will be prosecuted;
The boy is right and the cow is wrong,
But the cow, as it happens, is much more strong.

It does look awkward, and, if we attend,
We soon shall see how it all will end:
The Squire had a boy who was weak of bone,
And very much wanting in will of his own.

Admiring the pluck of resolute Jim,
The Squire comes out, and he says to him,
“How came you so plucky?” and Jim says “How?
I lived on the milk of this Obstinate Cow!”

“Oh, oh!” said the Squire, exceedingly pleased,
Your father shall sell me this obstinate beast,
And you shall be cowherd.” So said, so done, –
The boy and his father enjoyed the fun.

The Squire’s little boy, who was weak of bone,
And very much wanting in will of his own,
Was fed on the milk of the Obstinate Cow,
And, oh, what a change! You should see him now!

His mind is not worth a threepenny-bit,
O ‘Tis dull as a ditch and as void of wit,
Yet he makes it up, and from day to day,
“Do change your mind!” the people say;
But his will is so strong that the people find
They cannot induce him to change his mind.


Date: 1874

By: William Brighty Rands (1823-1882)