A bookworm in Kennebunk, Me.,
Found pleasure in reading Monte.,
He also liked Poe
And Daniel Defoe,
But the telephone book caused him pe.

There’s a girl out in Ann Arbor, Mich.,
To meet whom I never would wich.
She’d gobble ice cream
Till with colic she’d scream,
Then order another big dich.

As he filled up the order book pp.,
He said, “I should get higher ww.”
So he struck for more pay,
But alas, now, they say,
He is sweeping out elephants’ cc.


No sun — no moon!
No morn — no noon —
No dawn — no dusk — no proper time of day —

No sky — no earthly view —
No distance looking blue —
No road — no street — no “t’other side the way ” —

No end to any Row —
No indications where the Crescents go —
No top to any steeple —
No recognitions of familiar people —

No courtesies for showing ’em —
No knowing ’em!
No travelling at all — no locomotion,
No inkling of the way — no notion —

“No go” — by land or ocean —
No mail — no post —
No news from any foreign coast —
No park — no ring — no afternoon gentility —

No company — no nobility —
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member —
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds,


— Thomas Hood, in The Book of Days, 1832

“L’Envoi of the Cubists”

When the last Impression is posted and the tubes are twisted and pinched,
When the youngest Cubist is throttled and the oldest Futurist lynched,
We shall rest, and, gee! we shall need it–come off for a minute or two,
Till the masters of all this rubbish shall set us agog anew.

Then those that were Cubists shall worry; they shall sit on a picket fence
And paint with a vacuum cleaner on the sides of canvas tents.
They shall have real models to draw from–a nude in a crazy quilt,
Or a maudlin, rhomboid Scotchman, descending the stairs in his kilt.

And only Picasso shall praise them, and only Matisse shall blame;
And no one shall care for censure, and no one shall care for shame.
But each in his own straitjacket and each in his separate cell
Shall slather the paint as he sees it, for the glory of Art that won’t jell.

— Carolyn Wells, in Such Nonsense!: An Anthology, 1918

“Belagcholly Days”

Chilly Dovebber with his boadigg blast
Dow cubs add strips the beddow add the lawd,
Eved October’s suddy days are past–
Add Subber’s gawd!

I kdow dot what it is to which I cligg
That stirs to sogg add sorrow, yet I trust
That still I sigg, but as the liddets sigg–
Because I bust.

Add dow, farewell to roses add to birds,
To larded fields and tigkligg streablets eke;
Farewell to all articulated words
I faid would speak.

Farewell, by cherished strolliggs od the sward,
Greed glades add forest shades, farewell to you;
With sorrowing heart I, wretched add forlord,
Bid you–achew!!!

— Unknown, collected in Frederic Lawrence Knowles, A Treasury of Humorous Poetry, 1902

Epic Nurse

When Scottish physician John Armstrong planned to write a book on “the art of preserving health” in 1744, it seemed a promising undertaking. Unfortunately, he chose to do it in blank verse:

The languid stomach curses even the pure
Delicious fat, and all the race of oil;
For more the oily aliments relax
Its feeble tone; and with the eager lymph
(Fond to incorporate with all it meets)
Coyly they mix; and shun with slippery wiles
The wooed embrace. Th’ irresoluble oil,
So gentle late and blandishing, in floods
Of rancid bile o’erflows: What tumults hence,
What horrors rise, were nauseous to relate.
Choose leaner viands, ye of jovial make!

This ran to four books and 128 pages, too florid to be useful and too queasy to inspire. Armstrong made a few more stabs at medical poetry, but he didn’t quit his day job: In 1760 he became a physician to the British army in Germany, and then retired.


A girl who weighed many an oz.
Used language I dare not pronoz.
For a fellow unkind
Pulled her chair out behind
Just to see (so he said) if she’d boz.

There once was a young cow named Zephyr.
She seemed quite an amiable hephyr.
But the farmer came near
And she kicked off his ear,
Which made him considerably dephyr.

(Thanks, Jon.)

A guy asked two jays at St. Louis
What kind of an Indian the Souis.
They said “We’re no en-
Cyclopaedia, by hen!”
Said the guy: “If you fellows St. Whouis?”

A bright little maid in St. Thomas
Discovered a suit of pajhomas.
Said the maiden: “Well, well!
What they are I can’t tell,
But I’m sure that these garments St. Mhomas.”

— Ferdinand G. Christgau

“Sonnet to Nothing”

Mysterious Nothing! how shall I define
Thy shapeless, baseless, placeless emptiness?
Nor form, nor colour, sound, nor size is thine,
Nor words nor fingers can thy voice express;
But though we cannot thee to aught compare,
A thousand things to thee may likened be,
And though thou art with nobody nowhere,
Yet half mankind devote themselves to thee.
How many books thy history contain!
How many heads thy mighty plans pursue!
What labouring hands thy portion only gain!
What busy bodies thy doings only do!
To thee the great, the proud, the giddy bend,
And — like my sonnet — all in nothing end.

— Richard Porson, in Morning Chronicle, March 4, 1814

“The Jabberwocky of Authors”

‘Twas gilbert. The kchesterton
Did locke and bennett in the reed.
All meredith was the nicholson,
And harrison outqueed.

Beware the see-enn-william, son,
The londonjack with call that’s wild.
Beware the gertroo datherton
And richardwashburnchild.

He took his brady blade in hand;
Long time the partridge foe he sought.
Then stood a time by the oppenheim
In deep mcnaughton thought.

In warwick deeping thought he stood–
He poised on edithwharton brink;
He cried, “Ohbernardshaw! I could
If basilking would kink.”

Rexbeach! rexbeach!–and each on each
O. Henry’s mantles ferber fell.
It was the same’s if henryjames
Had wally eaton well.

“And hast thou writ the greatest book!
Come to thy birmingham, my boy!
Oh, beresford way! Oh, holman day!”
He kiplinged in his joy.

‘Twas gilbert. The kchesterton
Did locke and bennett in the reed.
All meredith was the nicholson,
And harrison outqueed.

— Harry Persons Taber, in Carolyn Wells, The Book of Humorous Verse, 1920


There are three species of creatures who when they seem coming are going,
When they seem going they come: Diplomats, women, and crabs.

— John Hay, in The Library of Wit and Humor, Prose and Poetry, 1884