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_He must be a fool indeed who cannot at
times play the fool; and he who does not
enjoy nonsense must be lacking in sense_.
_WILLIAM J. ROLFE_.
A Nonsense Anthology
Collected by Carolyn Wells
A NONSENSE LOVER
JABBERWOCKY Lewis Carroll
MORS IABROCHII Anonymous
THE NYUM-NYUM Anonymous
UFFIA Harriet R. White
SPIRK TROLL-DERISIVE James Whitcomb Riley
THE WHANGO TREE 1840
SING FOR THE GARISH EYE W.S. Gilbert
THE CRUISE OF THE "P.C." Anonymous
TO MARIE Anonymous
LUNAR STANZAS Henry Coggswell Knight
NONSENSE Anonymous, 1617
SONNET FOUND IN A DESERTED MAD HOUSE Anonymous
THE OCEAN WANDERER Anonymous
SHE'S ALL MY FANCY PAINTED HIM Lewis Carroll
MY RECOLLECTEST THOUGHTS Charles E. Carryl
FATHER WILLIAM Anonymous
IN THE GLOAMING James C. Bayles
BALLAD OF BEDLAM Punch
'TIS SWEET TO ROAM Anonymous
HYMN TO THE SUNRISE Anonymous
THE MOON IS UP Anonymous
'T IS MIDNIGHT Anonymous
UPRISING SEE THE FITFUL LARK Anonymous
LIKE TO THE THUNDERING TONE Bishop Corbet
MY DREAM Anonymous
MY HOME Anonymous
IN IMMEMORIAM Cuthbert Bede
THE HIGHER PANTHEISM IN A NUTSHELL A. C. Swinburne
DARWINITY Herman Merivale
SONG OF THE SCREW Anonymous
MOORLANDS OF THE NOT Anonymous
METAPHYSICS Oliver Herford
ABSTROSOPHY Gelett Burgess
ABSTEMIA Gelett Burgess
PSYCHOLOPHON Gelett Burgess
TIMON OF ARCHIMEDES Charles Battell Loomis
LINES BY A MEDIUM Anonymous
TRANSCENDENTALISM From the Times of India
COSSIMBAZAR Henry S. Leigh
THE PERSONIFIED SENTIMENTAL Bret Harte
A CLASSIC ODE Charles Battell Loomis
WHERE AVALANCHES WAIL Anonymous
BLUE MOONSHINE Francis G. Stokes
NONSENSE Thomas Moore
SUPERIOR NONSENSE VERSES Anonymous
WHEN MOONLIKE ORE THE HAZURE SEAS W.M. Thackeray
LINES BY A PERSON OF QUALITY Alexander Pope
LINES BY A FOND LOVER Anonymous
FORCING A WAY Anonymous
THY HEART Anonymous
A LOVE-SONG BY A LUNATIC Anonymous
THE PARTERRE E.H. Palmer
TO MOLLIDUSTA Planche
JOHN JONES A.C. Swinburne
THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT Edward Lear
A BALLADE OF THE NURSERIE John Twig
A BALLAD OF HIGH ENDEAVOR Anonymous
THE LUGUBRIOUS WHINGWHANG James Whitcomb Riley
OH! WEARY MOTHER Barry Pain
SWISS AIR Bret Harte
THE BULBUL Owen Seaman
OH, MY GERALDINE F.C. Burnand
BUZ, QUOTH THE BLUE FLY Ben Jonson
A SONG ON KING WILLIAM III Anonymous
THERE WAS A MONKEY Anonymous, 1626
THE GUINEA PIG Anonymous
THREE CHILDREN London, 1662
A RIDDLE Anonymous
THREE JOVIAL HUNTSMEN Anonymous
THREE ACRES OF LAND Anonymous
MASTER AND MAN Anonymous
HYDER IDDLE Anonymous
KING ARTHUR Anonymous
IN THE DUMPS Anonymous
TWEEDLE-DUM AND TWEE-DLE-DEE Anonymous
MARTIN TO HIS MAN From Deuteromelia
THE YONGHY-BONGHY-BO Edward Lear
THE POBBLE WHO HAS NO TOES Edward Lear
THE JUMBLIES Edward Lear
INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF MY UNCLE ARLY
LINES TO A YOUNG LADY Edward Lear
WAYS AND MEANS Lewis Carroll
THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER Lewis Carroll
THE HUNTING OF THE SNARK Lewis Carroll
SYLVIE AND BRUNO Lewis Carroll
GENTLE ALICE BROWN W.S. Gilbert
THE STORY OF PRINCE AGIB W.S. Gilbert
FERDINANDO AND ELVIRA, OR THE GENTLE PIEMAN
GENERAL JOHN W. S. Gilbert
LITTLE BILLEE W. M. Thackeray
THE WRECK OF THE "JULIE PLANTE" William H. Drummond
THE SHIPWRECK E. H. Palmer
A SAILOR'S YARN J. J. Roche
THE WALLOPING WINDOW-BLIND Charles E. Carryl
THE ROLLICKING MASTODON Arthur Macy
THE SILVER QUESTION Oliver Herford
THE SINGULAR SANGFROID OF BABY BUNTING
Guy Wetmore Carryl
FAITHLESS NELLY GRAY Thomas Hood
THE ELDERLY GENTLEMAN George Canning
MALUM OPUS James Appleton Morgan
AESTIVATION O. W. Holmes
A HOLIDAY TASK Gilbert Abbott a Becket
PUER EX JERSEY Anonymous
THE LITTLE PEACH Anonymous
MONSIEUR McGINTE Anonymous
YE LAYE OF YE WOODPECKORE Henry A. Beers
COLLUSION BETWEEN A ALEGAITER AND A WATER-SNAIK
J. W. Morris
ODD TO A KROKIS Anonymous
SOME VERSES TO SNAIX Anonymous
A GREAT MAN Oliver Goldsmith
AN ELEGY Oliver Goldsmith
PARSON GRAY Oliver Goldsmith
AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF A MAD DOG Oliver Goldsmith
THE WONDERFUL OLD MAN Anonymous
A CHRONICLE Anonymous
ON THE OXFORD CARRIER John Milton
NEPHELIDIA A. C. Swinburne
MARTIN LUTHER AT POTSDAM Barry Pain
COMPANIONS C. S. Calverley
THE COCK AND THE BULL C. S. Calverley
LOVERS AND A REFLECTION C. S. Calverley
AN IMITATION OF WORDSWORTH Catharine M. Fanshawe.
THE FAMOUS BALLAD OF THE JUBILEE CUP Arthur T. Quiller-Couch
A SONG OF IMPOSSIBILITIES W. M. Praed
TRUST IN WOMEN Anonymous
HERE IS THE TALE Anthony C. Deane
THE AULD WIFE C. S. Calverley
NOT I R. L. Stevenson
MINNIE AND WINNIE Lord Tennyson
THE MAYOR OF SCUTTLETON Mary Mapes Dodge
THE PURPLE COW Gelett Burgess
THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE Gelett Burgess
THE LAZY ROOF Gelett Burgess
MY FEET Gelett Burgess
THE HEN Oliver Herford
THE COW Oliver Herford
THE CHIMPANZEE Oliver Herford
THE HIPPOPOTAMUS Oliver Herford
THE PLATYPUS Oliver Herford
SOME GEESE Oliver Herford
THE FLAMINGO Lewis Gaylord Clark
KINDNESS TO ANIMALS J. Ashby-Sterry
SAGE COUNSEL A. T. Quiller-Couch
OF BAITING THE LION Owen Seaman
THE FROG Hilaire Belloc
THE YAK Hilaire Belloc
THE PYTHON Hilaire Belloc
THE BISON Hilaire Belloc
THE PANTHER Anonymous
THE MONKEY'S GLUE Goldwin Goldsmith
THERE WAS A FROG Christ Church MS.
THE BLOATED BIGGABOON H. Cholmondeley-Pennell
WILD FLOWERS Peter Newell
TIMID HORTENSE Peter Newell
HER POLKA DOTS Peter Newell
HER DAIRY Peter Newell
TURVEY TOP Anonymous
WHAT THE PRINCE OF I DREAMT H. Cholmondeley-Pennell
THE DINKEY-BIRD Eugene Field
THE MAN IN THE MOON James Whitcomb Riley
THE STORY OF THE WILD HUNTSMAN Dr. Heinrich Hoffman
THE STORY OF PYRAMID THOTHMES Anonymous
THE STORY OF CRUEL PSAMTEK Anonymous
THE CUMBERBUNCE Paul West
THE AHKOND OF SWAT Edward Lear
A THRENODY George Thomas Lanigan
DIRGE OF THE MOOLLA OF KOTAL George Thomas Lanigan
RUSSIAN AND TURK Anonymous
LINES TO MISS FLORENCE HUNTINGDON Anonymous
COBBE'S PROPHECIES 1614
AN UNSUSPECTED FACT Edward Cannon
THE SORROWS OF WERTHER W. M. Thackeray
NONSENSE VERSES Charles Lamb
THE NOBLE TUCK-MAN Jean Ingelow
THE PESSIMIST Ben King
THE MODERN HIAWATHA Anonymous
ON THE ROAD Tudor Jenks
UNCLE SIMON AND UNCLE JIM Artemus Ward
POOR DEAR GRANDPAPA D'Arcy W. Thompson
THE SEA-SERPENT Planche
THE MONKEY'S WEDDING Anonymous
MR. FINNEY'S TURNIP Anonymous
THE SUN J. Davis
THE AUTUMN LEAVES Anonymous
IN THE NIGHT Anonymous
POOR BROTHER Anonymous
THE BOY Eugene Field
THE SEA Anonymous
THERE WAS A LITTLE GIRL H. W. Longfellow
FIN DE SIECLE Newton Mackintosh
MARY JANE Anonymous
TENDER-HEARTEDNESS Col. D. Streamer
IMPETUOUS SAMUEL Col. D. Streamer
MISFORTUNES NEVER COME SINGLY Col. D. Streamer
AUNT ELIZA Col. D. Streamer
BABY AND MARY Anonymous
THE SUNBEAM Anonymous
LITTLE WILLIE Anonymous
MARY AMES Anonymous
MUDDLED METAPHORS Tom Hood, Jr.
VILLON'S STRAIGHT TIP TO ALL CROSS COVES
W. E. Henley
ODE TO THE HUMAN HEART Laman Blanchard
LIMERICKS Edward Lear
George du Maurier
Robert J. Burdette
On a topographical map of Literature Nonsense would be represented
by a small and sparsely settled country, neglected by the average
tourist, but affording keen delight to the few enlightened
travellers who sojourn within its borders. It is a field which has
been neglected by anthologists and essayists; one of its few serious
recognitions being in a certain "Treatise of Figurative Language,"
which says: "Nonsense; shall we dignify that with a place on our list?
Assuredly will vote for doing so every one who hath at all duly
noticed what admirable and wise uses it can be, and often is, put to,
though never before in rhetoric has it been so highly honored. How
deeply does clever or quaint nonsense abide in the memory, and for
how many a decade--from earliest youth to age's most venerable years."
And yet Hazlitt's "Studies in Jocular Literature" mentions six
divisions of the Jest, and omits Nonsense!
Perhaps, partly because of such neglect, the work of the best
nonsense writers is less widely known than it might be.
But a more probable reason is that the majority of the reading world
does not appreciate or enjoy real nonsense, and this, again, is
consequent upon their inability to discriminate between nonsense of
integral merit and simple chaff.
A jest's prosperity lies in the ear
Of him that hears it. Never in the tongue
Of him that makes it,
and a sense of nonsense is as distinct a part of our mentality as a
sense of humor, being by no means identical therewith.
It is a fad at present for a man to relate a nonsensical story, and
then, if his hearer does not laugh, say gravely: "You have no sense
of humor. That is a test story, and only a true humorist laughs at it."
Now, the hearer may have an exquisite sense of humor, but he may be
lacking in a sense of nonsense, and so the story gives him no
pleasure. De Quincey said, "None but a man of extraordinary talent
can write first-rate nonsense." Only a short study of the subject is
required to convince us that De Quincey was right; and he might have
added, none but a man of extraordinary taste can appreciate
first-rate nonsense. As an instance of this, we may remember that
Edward Lear, "the parent of modern nonsense-writers," was a talented
author and artist, and a prime favorite of such men as Tennyson and
the Earls of Derby; and John Ruskin placed Lear's name at the head
of his list of the best hundred authors.
"Don't tell me," said William Pitt, "of a man's being able to talk
sense; every one can talk sense. Can he talk nonsense?"
The sense of nonsense enables us not only to discern pure nonsense,
but to consider intelligently nonsense of various degrees of purity.
Absence of sense is not necessarily nonsense, any more than absence
of justice is injustice.
Etymologically speaking, nonsense may be either words without meaning,
or words conveying absurd or ridiculous ideas. It is the second
definition which expresses the great mass of nonsense literature,
but there is a small proportion of written nonsense which comes
under the head of language without meaning.
Again, there are verses composed entirely of meaningless words,
which are not nonsense literature, because they are written with
some other intent.
The nursery rhyme, of which there are almost as many versions as
there are nurseries,
Eena, meena, mona, mi,
Bassalona, bona, stri,
Hare, ware, frown, whack,
Halico balico, we, wi, we, wack,
is not strictly a nonsense verse, because it was invented and used
for "counting out," and the arbitrary words simply take the place of
the numbers 1, 2, 3, etc.
Also, the nonsense verses with which students of Latin composition
are sometimes taught to begin their efforts, where words are used
with no relative meaning, simply to familiarize the pupil with the
mechanical values of quantity and metre, are not nonsense. It is
only nonsense for nonsense' sake that is now under our consideration.
Doubtless the best and best-known example of versified words without
meaning is "Jabberwocky." Although (notwithstanding Lewis Carroll's
explanations) the coined words are absolutely without meaning, the
rhythm is perfect and the poetic quality decidedly apparent, and the
poem appeals to the nonsense lover as a work of pure genius. Bayard
Taylor is said to have recited "Jabberwocky" aloud for his own
delectation until he was forced to stop by uncontrollable laughter.
To us who know our _Alice_ it would seem unnecessary to quote this
poem, but it is a fact that among the general reading community the
appreciators of Lewis Carroll are surprisingly few. An editor of a
leading literary review, when asked recently if he had read
"Alice in Wonderland," replied, "No, but I mean to. It is by the
author of 'As in a looking-Glass,' is it not?"
But of far greater interest and merit than nonsense of words, is
nonsense of ideas. Here, again, we distinguish between nonsense and
no sense. Ideas conveying no sense are often intensely funny, and
this type is seen in some of the best of our nonsense literature.
A perfect specimen is the bit of evidence read by the White Rabbit
at the Trial of the Knave of Hearts. One charm of these verses is
the serious air of legal directness which pervades their ambiguity,
and another is the precision with which the metrical accent
coincides exactly with the natural emphasis. They are marked, too,
by the liquid euphony that always distinguishes Lewis Carroll's
A different type is found in verses that refer to objects in terms
the opposite of true, thereby suggesting ludicrous incongruity, and
there is also the nonsense verse that uses word effects which have
been confiscated by the poets and tacitly given over to them.
A refrain of nonsense words is a favorite diversion of many
otherwise serious poets.
With a hey, and a ho, and a hey nonino,
is one of Shakespeare's many musical nonsense refrains.
[Footnote 1: "She's all my Fancy painted him," page 20.]
Burns gives us:
Ken ye aught o' Captain Grose?
Igo and ago,
If he's 'mang his freens or foes?
Iram, coram, dago.
Is he slain by Highlan' bodies?
Igo and ago;
And eaten like a weather haggis?
Iram, coram, dago.
Another very old refrain runs thus:
Forum, corum, sunt di-vorum,
Harum, scarum, divo;
Tag-rag, merry-derry, periwig and hat-band,
Hic, hoc, horum, genitivo.
An old ballad written before the Reformation has for a refrain:
Sing go trix,
Trim go trix,
Under the greenwood tree.
While a celebrated political ballad is known by its nonsense chorus,
Lilliburlero bullin a-la.
Mother Goose rhymes abound in these nonsense refrains, and they are
often fine examples of onomatopoeia.
By far the most meritorious and most interesting kind of nonsense is
that which embodies an absurd or ridiculous idea, and treats it with
elaborate seriousness. The greatest masters of this art are
undoubtedly Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll. These Englishmen were men
of genius, deep thinkers, and hard workers.
Lear was an artist draughtsman, his subjects being mainly
ornithological and zoological. Lewis Carroll (Charles L. Dodgson)
was an expert in mathematics and a lecturer on that science in
Christ Church, Oxford.
Both these men numbered among their friends many of the greatest
Englishmen of the day. Tennyson was a warm friend and admirer of each,
as was also John Ruskin.
Lear's first nonsense verses, published in 1846, are written in the
form of the well-known stanza beginning:
There was an old man of Tobago.
This type of stanza, known as the "Limerick," is said by a gentleman
who speaks with authority to have flourished in the reign of William
IV. This is one of several he remembers as current at his public
school in 1834:
There was a young man at St. Kitts
Who was very much troubled with fits;
The eclipse of the moon
Threw him into a swoon,
When he tumbled and broke into bits.
Lear distinctly asserts that this form of verse was not invented by
him, but was suggested by a friend as a useful model for amusing
rhymes. It proved so in his case, for he published no less than two
hundred and twelve of these "Limericks."
In regard to his verses, Lear asserted that "nonsense, pure and
absolute," was his aim throughout; and remarked, further, that to
have been the means of administering innocent mirth to thousands was
surely a just excuse for satisfaction. He pursued his aim with
scrupulous consistency, and his absurd conceits are fantastic and
ridiculous, but never cheaply or vulgarly funny.
Twenty-five years after his first book came out, Lear published
other books of nonsense verse and prose, with pictures which are
irresistibly mirth-provoking. Lear's nonsense songs, while retaining
all the ludicrous merriment of his Limericks, have an added quality
of poetic harmony. They are distinctly _singable_, and many of them
have been set to music by talented composers. Perhaps the best-known
songs are "The Owl and the Pussy-Cat" and "The Daddy-Long-Legs and
Lear himself composed airs for "The Pelican Chorus" and "The
Yonghy-Bonghy Bo," which were arranged for the piano by Professor Pome,
of San Remo, Italy.
Although like Lear's in some respects, Lewis Carroll's nonsense is
perhaps of a more refined type. There is less of the grotesque and
more poetic imagery. But though Carroll was more of a poet than Lear,
both had the true sense of nonsense. Both assumed the most absurd
conditions, and proceeded to detail their consequences with a simple
seriousness that convulses appreciative readers, and we find
ourselves uncertain whether it is the manner or the matter that is
Lewis Carroll was a man of intellect and education; his funniest
sayings are often based on profound knowledge or deep thought. Like
Lear, he never spoiled his quaint fancies by over-exaggerating their
quaintness or their fancifulness, and his ridiculous plots are as
carefully conceived, constructed, and elaborated as though they
embodied the soundest facts. No funny detail is ever allowed to
become _too_ funny; and it is in this judicious economy of
extravagance that his genius is shown. As he remarks in one of his
Then, fourthly, there are epithets
That suit with any word--
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce
With fish, or flesh, or bird.
Such epithets, like pepper,
Give zest to what you write;
And, if you strew them sparely,
They whet the appetite;
But if you lay them on too thick,
You spoil the matter quite!
Both Lear and Carroll suffered from the undiscerning critics who
persisted in seeing in their nonsense a hidden meaning, a cynical,
political, or other intent, veiled under the apparent foolery. Lear
takes occasion to deny this in the preface to one of his books, and
asserts not only that his rhymes and pictures have no symbolical
meaning, but that he "took more care than might be supposed to make
the subjects incapable of such misinterpretation."
Likewise, "Jabberwocky" was declared by one critic to be a
translation from the German, and by others its originality was
doubted. The truth is, that it was written by Lewis Carroll at an
evening party; it was quite impromptu, and no ulterior meaning was
intended. "The Hunting of the Snark" was also regarded by some as an
allegory, or, perhaps, a burlesque on a celebrated case, in which
the _Snark_ was used as a personification of popularity, but Lewis
Carroll protested that the poem had no meaning at all.
A favorite trick of the Nonsensists is the coining of words to suit
their needs, and Lear and Carroll are especially happy in their
inventions of this kind.
Lear gives us such gems as scroobious, meloobious, ombliferous,
borascible, slobaciously, himmeltanious, flumpetty, and mumbian;
while the best of Lewis Carroll's coined words are those found in
Another of the great Nonsensists is W. S. Gilbert. Unlike Lear or
Carroll, his work is not characterized by absurd words or phrases;
he prefers a still wider scope, and invents a ridiculous plot. The
"Bab Ballads," as well as Mr. Gilbert's comic opera librettos, hinge
upon schemes of ludicrous impossibility, which are treated as the
most natural proceedings in the world. The best known of the
"Bab Ballads" is no doubt "The Yarn of the 'Nancy Bell,'" which was
long since set to music and is still a popular song. In addition to
his talent for nonsense, Mr. Gilbert possesses a wonderful rhyming
facility, and juggles cleverly with difficult and unusual metres.
In regard to his "Bab Ballads," Mr. Gilbert gravely says that
"they are not, as a rule, founded on fact," and, remembering their
gory and often cannibalistic tendencies, we are grateful for this
assurance. An instance of Gilbert's appreciation of other people's
nonsense is his parody of Lear's verse:
There was an old man in a tree
Who was horribly bored by a bee;
When they said, "Does it buzz?"
He replied, "Yes, it does!
It's a regular brute of a bee!"
The parody attributed to Gilbert is called "A Nonsense Rhyme in
There was an old man of St. Bees,
Who was stung in the arm by a wasp;
When they asked, "Does it hurt?"
He replied, "No, it doesn't,
But I thought all the while 'twas a Hornet!"
Thackeray wrote spirited nonsense, but much of it had an
under-meaning, political or otherwise, which bars it from the field
of sheer nonsense.
The sense of nonsense is no respecter of persons; even staid old
Dr. Johnson possessed it, though his nonsense verses are marked by
credible fact and irrefutable logic. Witness these two examples:
As with my hat upon my head
I walked along the Strand,
I there did meet another man
With his hat in his hand.
The tender infant, meek and mild,
Fell down upon the stone;
The nurse took up the squealing child,
But still the child squealed on.
The Doctor is also responsible for
If a man who turnips cries,
Cry not when his father dies,
'Tis a proof that he would rather
Have a turnip than a father.
And indeed, among our best writers there are few who have not
dropped into nonsense or semi-nonsense at one time or another.
A familiar bit of nonsense prose is by S. Foote, and it is said that
Charles Macklin used to recite it with great gusto:
"She went into the garden to cut a cabbage-leaf to make
an apple-pie, and at the same time a great she-bear coming
up the street, pops its head into the shop. 'What, no
soap?' so he died. She imprudently married the barber,
and there were present the Pickaninnies, the Joblilies, the
Gayrulies, and the Grand Panjandrum himself with the little
round button on top, and they all fell to playing
till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their
[Transcriber's note: The above paragraph is not an excerpt from a
longer work, but is complete as it stands.]
An old nonsense verse attributed to an Oxford student, is the well
A centipede was happy quite,
Until a frog in fun
Said, "Pray, which leg comes after which?"
This raised her mind to such a pitch,
She lay distracted in the ditch
Considering how to run.
So far as we know, Kipling has never printed anything which can be
called nonsense verse, but it is doubtless only a question of time
when that branch shall be added to his versatility. His "Just So"
stories are capital nonsense prose, and the following rhyme proves
him guilty of at least one Limerick:
There was a small boy of Quebec,
Who was buried in snow to his neck;
When they said, "Are you friz?"
He replied, "Yes, I is--
But we don't call this cold in Quebec."
Among living authors, one who has written a great amount of good
nonsense is Mr. Gelett Burgess, late editor of _The Lark_.
According to Mr. Burgess' own statement, the test of nonsense is its
quotability, and his work stands this test admirably, for what
absurd rhyme ever attained such popularity as his "Purple Cow"? This
was first printed in _The Lark_, a paper published in San
Francisco for two years, the only periodical of any merit that has
ever made intelligent nonsense its special feature.
Another of the most talented nonsense writers of to-day is Mr. Oliver
Herford. It is a pity, however, to reproduce his verse without his
illustrations, for as nonsense these are as admirable as the text.
But the greater part of Mr. Herford's work belongs to the realm
of pure fancy, and though of a whimsical delicacy often equal to
Lewis Carroll's, it is rarely sheer nonsense.
As a proof that good nonsense is by no means an easy achievement,
attention is called to a recent competition inaugurated by the
Nonsense rhymes similar to those quoted from _The Lark_ were asked
for, and though many were received, it is stated that no brilliant
results were among them.
The prize was awarded to this weak and uninteresting specimen:
"If half the road was made of jam,
The other half of bread,
How very nice my walks would be,"
The greedy infant said.
These two were also offered by competitors:
I love to stand upon my head
And think of things sublime
Until my mother interrupts
And says it's dinner-time.
A lobster wooed a lady crab,
And kissed her lovely face.
"Upon my sole," the crabbess cried,
"I wish you'd mind your plaice!"
Let us, then, give Nonsense its place among the divisions of Humor,
and though we cannot reduce it to an exact science, let us
acknowledge it as a fine art.
A NONSENSE ANTHOLOGY
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought.
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through, and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh, frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'T was brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Coesper erat: tunc lubriciles ultravia circum
Urgebant gyros gimbiculosque tophi;
Moestenui visae borogovides ire meatu;
Et profugi gemitus exgrabuere rathae.
O fuge Iabrochium, sanguis meus! Ille recurvis
Unguibus, estque avidis dentibus ille minax.
Ububae fuge cautus avis vim, gnate! Neque unquam
Faederpax contra te frumiosus eat!
Vorpali gladio juvenis succingitur: hostis
Manxumus ad medium quaeritur usque diem:
Jamque via fesso, sed plurima mente prementi,
Tumtumiae frondis suaserat umbra moram.
Consilia interdum stetit egnia mene revolvens;
At gravis in densa fronde susuffrus erat,
Spiculaque ex oculis jacientis flammea, tulseam
Per silvam venit burbur labrochii!
Vorpali, semel atque iterum collectus in ictum,
Persnicuit gladis persnacuitque puer:
Deinde galumphatus, spernens informe Cadaver,
Horrendum monstri rettulit ipse caput.
Victor Iabrochii, spoliis insignis opimis,
Rursus in amplexus, o radiose, meos!
O frabiose dies! CALLO clamateque CALLA!
Vix potuit lastus chorticulare pater.
Coesper erat: tune lubriciles ultravia circum
Urgebant gyros gimbiculosque tophi;
Moestenui visae borogovides ire meatu;
Et profugi gemitus exgrabuere rathae.
[Footnote 1: _Coesper_ from _Coena_ and _vesper_.]
[Footnote 2: _lubriciles_ from _lubricus_ and _graciles_. See the
Commentary in Humpty Dumpty's square, which will also explain
_ultravia_, and--if it requires explanation--_moestenui_.]
[Footnote 3: _Sanguis meus_: cf. Verg. Aen. 6. 836, "Projice tela
manu, sanguis meus!"]
[Footnote 4: _egnia_: "muffish" = segnis; ... "uffish" = egnis.
This is a conjectural analogy, but I can suggest no better solution.]
[Footnote 5: _susuffrus_ : "whiffling" :: _susurrus_ : "whistling."]
[Footnote 6: _spicula_: see the picture.]
[Footnote 7: _burbur_: apparently a labial variation of _murmur_,
stronger but more dissonant.]
The Nyum-Nyum chortled by the sea,
And sipped the wavelets green:
He wondered how the sky could be
So very nice and clean;
He wondered if the chambermaid
Had swept the dust away,
And if the scrumptious Jabberwock
Had mopped it up that day.
And then in sadness to his love
The Nyum-Nyum weeping said,
I know no reason why the sea
Should not be white or red.
I know no reason why the sea
Should not be red, I say;
And why the slithy Bandersnatch
Has not been round to-day.
He swore he'd call at two o'clock,
And now it's half-past four.
"Stay," said the Nyum-Nyum's love, "I think
I hear him at the door."
In twenty minutes in there came
A creature black as ink,
Which put its feet upon a chair
And called for beer to drink.
They gave him porter in a tub,
But, "Give me more!" he cried;
And then he drew a heavy sigh,
And laid him down, and died.
He died, and in the Nyum-Nyum's cave
A cry of mourning rose;
The Nyum-Nyum sobbed a gentle sob,
And slily blew his nose.
The Nyum-Nyum's love, we need not state,
Was overwhelmed and sad;
She said, "Oh, take the corpse away,
Or you will drive me mad!"
The Nyum-Nyum in his supple arms
Took up the gruesome weight,
And, with a cry of bitter fear,
He threw it at his mate.
And then he wept, and tore his hair,
And threw it in the sea,
And loudly sobbed with streaming eyes
That such a thing could be.
The ox, that mumbled in his stall,
Perspired and gently sighed,
And then, in sympathy, it fell
Upon its back and died.
The hen that sat upon her eggs,
With high ambition fired,
Arose in simple majesty,
And, with a cluck, expired.
The jubejube bird, that carolled there,
Sat down upon a post,
And with a reverential caw,
Gave up its little ghost.
And ere its kind and loving life
Eternally had ceased,
The donkey, in the ancient barn,
In agony deceased.
The raven, perched upon the elm,
Gave forth a scraping note,
And ere the sound had died away,
Had cut its tuneful throat.
The Nyum-Nyum's love was sorrowful;
And, after she had cried,
She, with a brand-new carving-knife,
"Alas!" the Nyum-Nyum said, "alas!
With thee I will not part,"
And straightway seized a rolling-pin
And drove it through his heart.
The mourners came and gathered up
The bits that lay about;
But why the massacre had been,
They could not quite make out.
One said there was a mystery
Connected with the deaths;
But others thought the silent ones
Perhaps had lost their breaths.
The doctor soon arrived, and viewed
The corpses as they lay;
He could not give them life again,
So he was heard to say.
But, oh! it was a horrid sight;
It made the blood run cold,
To see the bodies carried off
And covered up with mould.
The Toves across the briny sea
Wept buckets-full of tears;
They were relations of the dead,
And had been friends for years.
The Jabberwock upon the hill
Gave forth a gloomy wail,
When in his airy seat he sat,
And told the awful tale.
And who can wonder that it made
That loving creature cry?
For he had done the dreadful work
And caused the things to die.
That Jabberwock was passing bad--
That Jabberwock was wrong,
And with this verdict I conclude
One portion of my song.
When sporgles spanned the floreate mead
And cogwogs gleet upon the lea,
Uffia gopped to meet her love
Who smeeged upon the equat sea.
Dately she walked aglost the sand;
The boreal wind seet in her face;
The moggling waves yalped at her feet;
Pangwangling was her pace.
_Harriet R. White_.
The Crankadox leaned o'er the edge of the moon,
And wistfully gazed on the sea
Where the Gryxabodill madly whistled a tune
To the air of "Ti-fol-de-ding-dee."
The quavering shriek of the Fliupthecreek
Was fitfully wafted afar
To the Queen of the Wunks as she powdered her cheek
With the pulverized rays of a star.
The Gool closed his ear on the voice of the Grig,
And his heart it grew heavy as lead
As he marked the Baldekin adjusting his wig
On the opposite side of his head;
And the air it grew chill as the Gryxabodill
Raised his dank, dripping fins to the skies
To plead with the Plunk for the use of her bill
To pick the tears out of his eyes.
The ghost of the Zhack flitted by in a trance;
And the Squidjum hid under a tub
As he heard the loud hooves of the Hooken advance
With a rub-a-dub-dub-a-dub dub!
And the Crankadox cried as he laid down and died,
"My fate there is none to bewail!"
While the Queen of the Wunks drifted over the tide
With a long piece of crape to her tail.
_James Whitcomb Riley_.
THE WHANGO TREE
The woggly bird sat on the whango tree,
Nooping the rinkum corn,
And graper and graper, alas! grew he,
And cursed the day he was born.
His crute was clum and his voice was rum,
As curiously thus sang he,
"Oh, would I'd been rammed and eternally clammed
Ere I perched on this whango tree."
Now the whango tree had a bubbly thorn,
As sharp as a nootie's bill,
And it stuck in the woggly bird's umptum lorn
And weepadge, the smart did thrill.
He fumbled and cursed, but that wasn't the worst,
For he couldn't at all get free,
And he cried, "I am gammed, and injustibly nammed
On the luggardly whango tree."
And there he sits still, with no worm in his bill,
Nor no guggledom in his nest;
He is hungry and bare, and gobliddered with care,
And his grabbles give him no rest;
He is weary and sore and his tugmut is soar,
And nothing to nob has he,
As he chirps, "I am blammed and corruptibly jammed,
In this cuggerdom whango tree."
SING FOR THE GARISH EYE
Sing for the garish eye,
When moonless brandlings cling!
Let the froddering crooner cry,
And the braddled sapster sing,
For never and never again,
Will the tottering beechlings play,
For bratticed wrackers are singing aloud,
And the throngers croon in May!
THE CRUISE OF THE "P.C."
Across the swiffling waves they went,
The gumly bark yoked to and fro:
The jupple crew on pleasure bent,
Galored, "This is a go!"
Beside the poo's'l stood the Gom,
He chirked and murgled in his glee;
While near him, in a grue jipon,
The Bard was quite at sea.
"Gollop! Golloy! Thou scrumjous Bard!
Take pen (thy stylo) and endite
A pome, my brain needs kurgling hard,
And I will feast tonight."
That wansome Bard he took his pen,
A flirgly look around he guv;
He squoffled once, he squirled, and then
He wrote what's writ above.
When the breeze from the bluebottle's blustering blim
Twirls the toads in a tooroomaloo,
And the whiskery whine of the wheedlesome whim
Drowns the roll of the rattatattoo,
Then I dream in the shade of the shally-go-shee,
And the voice of the bally-molay
Brings the smell of stale poppy-cods blummered in blee
From the willy-wad over the way.
Ah, the shuddering shoo and the blinketty-blanks
When the yungalung falls from the bough
In the blast of a hurricane's hicketty-hanks
On the hills of the hocketty-how!
Give the rigamarole to the clangery-whang,
If they care for such fiddlededee;
But the thingumbob kiss of the whangery-bang
Keeps the higgledy-piggle for me.
It is pilly-po-doddle and aligobung
When the lollypop covers the ground,
Yet the poldiddle perishes punketty-pung
When the heart jimmy-coggles around.
If the soul cannot snoop at the giggle-some cart,
Seeking surcease in gluggety-glug,
It is useless to say to the pulsating heart,
Night saw the crew like pedlers with their packs
Altho' it were too dear to pay for eggs;
Walk crank along with coffin on their backs
While in their arms they bow their weary legs.
And yet 't was strange, and scarce can one suppose
That a brown buzzard-fly should steal and wear
His white jean breeches and black woollen hose,
But thence that flies have souls is very clear.
But, Holy Father! what shall save the soul,
When cobblers ask three dollars for their shoes?
When cooks their biscuits with a shot-tower roll,
And farmers rake their hay-cocks with their hoes.
Yet, 'twere profuse to see for pendant light,
A tea-pot dangle in a lady's ear;
And 'twere indelicate, although she might
Swallow two whales and yet the moon shine clear.
But what to me are woven clouds, or what,
If dames from spiders learn to warp their looms?
If coal-black ghosts turn soldiers for the State,
With wooden eyes, and lightning-rods for plumes?
Oh! too, too shocking! barbarous, savage taste!
To eat one's mother ere itself was born!
To gripe the tall town-steeple by the waste,
And scoop it out to be his drinking-horn.
No more: no more! I'm sick and dead and gone;
Boxed in a coffin, stifled six feet deep;
Thorns, fat and fearless, prick my skin and bone,
And revel o'er me, like a soulless sheep.
_Henry Coggswell Knight, 1815_.
Oh that my Lungs could bleat like butter'd Pease;
But bleating of my lungs hath Caught the itch,
And are as mangy as the Irish Seas
That offer wary windmills to the Rich.
I grant that Rainbowes being lull'd asleep,
Snort like a woodknife in a Lady's eyes;
Which makes her grieve to see a pudding creep,
For Creeping puddings only please the wise.
Not that a hard-row'd herring should presume
To swing a tyth pig in a Cateskin purse;
For fear the hailstons which did fall at Rome,
By lesning of the fault should make it worse.
For 'tis most certain Winter woolsacks grow
From geese to swans if men could keep them so,
Till that the sheep shorn Planets gave the hint
To pickle pancakes in Geneva print.
Some men there were that did suppose the skie
Was made of Carbonado'd Antidotes;
But my opinion is, a Whale's left eye,
Need not be coyned all King Harry groates.
The reason's plain, for Charon's Westerne barge
Running a tilt at the Subjunctive mood,
Beckoned to Bednal Green, and gave him charge
To fasten padlockes with Antartic food.
The End will be the Mill ponds must be laded,
To fish for white pots in a Country dance;
So they that suffered wrong and were upbraded
Shall be made friends in a left-handed trance.
SONNET FOUND IN A DESERTED MAD HOUSE
Oh that my soul a marrow-bone might seize!
For the old egg of my desire is broken,
Spilled is the pearly white and spilled the yolk, and
As the mild melancholy contents grease
My path the shorn lamb baas like bumblebees.
Time's trashy purse is as a taken token
Or like a thrilling recitation, spoken
By mournful mouths filled full of mirth and cheese.
And yet, why should I clasp the earthful urn?
Or find the frittered fig that felt the fast?
Or choose to chase the cheese around the churn?
Or swallow any pill from out the past?
Ah, no Love, not while your hot kisses burn
Like a potato riding on the blast.
THE OCEAN WANDERER
Bright breaks the warrior o'er the ocean wave
Through realms that rove not, clouds that cannot save,
Sinks in the sunshine; dazzles o'er the tomb
And mocks the mutiny of Memory's gloom.
Oh! who can feel the crimson ecstasy
That soothes with bickering jar the Glorious Tree?
O'er the high rock the foam of gladness throws,
While star-beams lull Vesuvius to repose:
Girds the white spray, and in the blue lagoon,
Weeps like a walrus o'er the waning moon?
Who can declare?--not thou, pervading boy
Whom pibrochs pierce not, crystals cannot cloy;--
Not thou soft Architect of silvery gleams,
Whose soul would simmer in Hesperian streams,
Th' exhaustless fire--the bosom's azure bliss,
That hurtles, life-like, o'er a scene like this;--
Defies the distant agony of Day--
And sweeps o'er hetacombs--away! away!
Say shall Destruction's lava load the gale,
The furnace quiver and the mountain quail?
Say shall the son of Sympathy pretend
His cedar fragrance with our Chiefs to blend?
There, where the gnarled monuments of sand
Howl their dark whirlwinds to the levin brand;
Conclusive tenderness; fraternal grog,
Tidy conjunction; adamantine bog,
Impetuous arrant toadstool; Thundering quince,
Repentant dog-star, inessential Prince,
Expound. Pre-Adamite eventful gun,
Crush retribution, currant-jelly, pun,
Oh! eligible Darkness, fender, sting,
Heav'n-born Insanity, courageous thing.
Intending, bending, scouring, piercing all,
Death like pomatum, tea, and crabs must fall.
SHE'S ALL MY FANCY PAINTED HIM
She's all my fancy painted him,
(I make no idle boast);
If he or you had lost a limb,
Which would have suffered most?
He said that you had been to her,
And seen me here before:
But, in another character
She was the same of yore.
There was not one that spoke to us,
Of all that thronged the street;
So he sadly got into a 'bus,
And pattered with his feet.
They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him;
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.
He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true);
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?
I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.
If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.
My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.
Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.
MY RECOLLECTEST THOUGHTS
My recollectest thoughts are those
Which I remember yet;
And bearing on, as you'd suppose,
The things I don't forget.
But my resemblest thoughts are less
Alike than they should be;
A state of things, as you'll confess,
You very seldom see.
And yet the mostest thought I love
Is what no one believes--
That I'm the sole survivor of
The famous Forty Thieves!
_Charles E. Carry_.
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your nose has a look of surprise;
Your eyes have turned round to the back of your head,
And you live upon cucumber pies."
"I know it, I know it," the old man replied,
"And it comes from employing a quack,
Who said if I laughed when the crocodile died
I should never have pains in my back."
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your legs always get in your way;
You use too much mortar in mixing your bread,
And you try to drink timothy hay."
"Very true, very true," said the wretched old man,
"Every word that you tell me is true;
And it's caused by my having my kerosene can
Painted red where it ought to be blue."
"You are old, Father William," the young man said,
"And your teeth are beginning to freeze,
Your favorite daughter has wheels in her head,
And the chickens are eating your knees."
"You are right," said the old man, "I cannot deny,
That my troubles are many and great,
But I'll butter my ears on the Fourth of July,
And then I'll be able to skate."
IN THE GLOAMING
The twilight twiles in the vernal vale,
In adumbration of azure awe,
And I listlessly list in my swallow-tail
To the limpet licking his limber jaw.
And it's O for the sound of the daffodil,
For the dry distillings of prawn and prout,
When hope hops high and a heather hill
Is a dear delight and a darksome doubt.
The snagwap sits in the bosky brae
And sings to the gumplet in accents sweet;
The gibwink hasn't a word to say,
But pensively smiles at the fair keeweet.
And it's O for the jungles of Boorabul.
For the jingling jungles to jangle in,
With a moony maze of mellado mull,
And a protoplasm for next of kin.
O, sweet is the note of the shagreen shard
And mellow the mew of the mastodon,
When the soboliferous Somminard
Is scenting the shadows at set of sun.
And it's O for the timorous tamarind
In the murky meadows of Mariboo,
For the suave sirocco of Sazerkind,
And the pimpernell pellets of Pangipoo.
_James C. Bayles_.
BALLAD OF BEDLAM
Oh, lady, wake! the azure moon
Is rippling in the verdant skies,
The owl is warbling his soft tune,
Awaiting but thy snowy eyes.
The joys of future years are past,
To-morrow's hopes have fled away;
Still let us love, and e'en at last
We shall be happy yesterday.
The early beam of rosy night
Drives off the ebon morn afar,
While through the murmur of the light
The huntsman winds his mad guitar.
Then, lady, wake! my brigantine
Pants, neighs, and prances to be free;
Till the creation I am thine,
To some rich desert fly with me.
'TIS SWEET TO ROAM
'Tis sweet to roam when morning's light
Resounds across the deep;
And the crystal song of the woodbine bright
Hushes the rocks to sleep,
And the blood-red moon in the blaze of noon
Is bathed in a crumbling dew,
And the wolf rings out with a glittering shout,
To-whit, to-whit, to-whoo!
HYMN TO THE SUNRISE
The dreamy crags with raucous voices croon
Across the zephyr's heliotrope career;
I sit contentedly upon the moon
And watch the sunlight trickle round the sphere.
The shiny trill of jagged, feathered rocks
I hear with glee as swift I fly away;
And over waves of subtle, woolly flocks
Crashes the breaking day!
THE MOON IS UP
The moon is up, the moon is up!
The larks begin to fly,
And, like a drowsy buttercup,
Dark Phoebus skims the sky,
The elephant, with cheerful voice,
Sings blithely on the spray;
The bats and beetles all rejoice,
Then let me, too, be gay.
I would I were a porcupine,
And wore a peacock's tail;
To-morrow, if the moon but shine,
Perchance I'll be a whale.
Then let me, like the cauliflower,
Be merry while I may,
And, ere there comes a sunny hour
To cloud my heart, be gay!
'Tis midnight, and the setting sun
Is slowly rising in the west;
The rapid rivers slowly run,
The frog is on his downy nest.
The pensive goat and sportive cow,
Hilarious, leap from bough to bough.
UPRISING SEE THE FITFUL LARK
Uprising see the fitful lark
Unfold his pinion to the stream;
The pensive watch-dog's mellow bark
O'ershades yon cottage like a dream:
The playful duck and warbling bee
Hop gayly on, from tree to tree!
How calmly could my spirit rest
Beneath yon primrose bell so blue,
And watch those airy oxen drest
In every tint of pearling hue!
As on they hurl the gladsome plough,
While fairy zephyrs deck each brow!
LIKE TO THE THUNDERING TONE
Like to the thundering tone of unspoke speeches,
Or like a lobster clad in logic breeches,
Or like the gray fur of a crimson cat,
Or like the mooncalf in a slipshod hat;
E'en such is he who never was begotten
Until his children were both dead and rotten.
Like to the fiery tombstone of a cabbage,
Or like a crab-louse with its bag and baggage,
Or like the four square circle of a ring,
Or like to hey ding, ding-a, ding-a, ding;
E'en such is he who spake, and yet, no doubt,
Spake to small purpose, when his tongue was out.
Like to a fair, fresh, fading, wither'd rose,
Or like to rhyming verse that runs in prose,
Or like the stumbles of a tinder-box,
Or like a man that's sound yet sickness mocks;
E'en such is he who died and yet did laugh
To see these lines writ for his epitaph.
in 17th century_.
I dreamed a dream next Tuesday week,
Beneath the apple-trees;
I thought my eyes were big pork-pies,
And my nose was Stilton cheese.
The clock struck twenty minutes to six,
When a frog sat on my knee;
I asked him to lend me eighteenpence,
But he borrowed a shilling of me.
My home is on the rolling deep,
I spend my time a-feeding sheep;
And when the waves on high are running,
I take my gun and go a-gunning.
I shoot wild ducks down deep snake-holes,
And drink gin-sling from two-quart bowls.
We seek to know, and knowing seek;
We seek, we know, and every sense
Is trembling with the great intense,
And vibrating to what we speak.
We ask too much, we seek too oft;
We know enough and should no more;
And yet we skim through Fancy's lore,
And look to earth and not aloft.
* * * * *
O Sea! whose ancient ripples lie
On red-ribbed sands where seaweeds shone;
O moon! whose golden sickle's gone,
O voices all! like you I die!
THE HIGHER PANTHEISM IN A NUTSHELL
One, who is not, we see; but one, whom we see not, is;
Surely, this is not that; but that is assuredly this.
What, and wherefore, and whence: for under is over and under;
If thunder could be without lightning, lightning could be without
Doubt is faith in the main; but faith, on the whole, is doubt;
We cannot believe by proof; but could we believe without?
Why, and whither, and how? for barley and rye are not clover;
Neither are straight lines curves; yet over is under and over.
One and two are not one; but one and nothing is two;
Truth can hardly be false, if falsehood cannot be true.
Parallels all things are; yet many of these are askew;
You are certainly I; but certainly I am not you.
One, whom we see not, is; and one, who is not, we see;
Fiddle, we know, is diddle; and diddle, we take it, is dee.
Power to thine elbow, thou newest of sciences,
All the old landmarks are ripe for decay;
Wars are but shadows, and so are alliances,
Darwin the great is the man of the day.
All other 'ologies want an apology;
Bread's a mistake--Science offers a stone;
Nothing is true but Anthropobiology--
Darwin the great understands it alone.
Mighty the great evolutionist teacher is,
Licking Morphology clean into shape;
Lord! what an ape the Professor or Preacher is,
Ever to doubt his descent from an ape.
Man's an Anthropoid--he cannot help that, you know--
First evoluted from Pongos of old;
He's but a branch of the _catarrhine_ cat, you know--
Monkey I mean--that's an ape with a cold.
Fast dying out are man's later Appearances,
Cataclysmitic Geologies gone;
Now of Creation completed the clearance is,
Darwin alone you must anchor upon.
Primitive Life--Organisms were chemical,
Busting spontaneous under the sea;
Purely subaqueous, panaquademical,
Was the original Crystal of Me.
I'm the Apostle of mighty Darwinity,
Stands for Divinity--sounds much the same--
Only can doubt whence the lot of us came.
Down on your knees, Superstition and Flunkeydom!
Won't you accept such plain doctrines instead?
What is so simple as primitive Monkeydom
Born in the sea with a cold in its head?
SONG OF THE SCREW
A moving form or rigid mass,
Under whate'er conditions
Along successive screws must pass
Between each two positions.
It turns around and slides along--
This is the burden of my song.
The pitch of screw, if multiplied
By angle of rotation,
Will give the distance it must glide
In motion of translation.
Infinite pitch means pure translation,
And zero pitch means pure rotation.
Two motions on two given screws,
With amplitudes at pleasure,
Into a third screw-motion fuse;
Whose amplitude we measure
By parallelogram construction
(A very obvious deduction.)
Its axis cuts the nodal line
Which to both screws is normal,
And generates a form divine,
Whose name, in language formal,
Is "surface-ruled of third degree."
Cylindroid is the name for me.
Rotation round a given line
Is like a force along.
If to say couple you incline,
You're clearly in the wrong;--
'Tis obvious, upon reflection,
A line is not a mere direction.
So couples with translations too
In all respects agree;
And thus there centres in the screw
A wondrous harmony
Of Kinematics and of Statics,--
The sweetest thing in mathematics.
The forces on one given screw,
With motion on a second,
In general some work will do,
Whose magnitude is reckoned
By angle, force, and what we call
The coefficient virtual.
Rotation now to force convert,
And force into rotation;
Unchanged the work, we can assert,
In spite of transformation.
And if two screws no work can claim,
Reciprocal will be their name.
Five numbers will a screw define,
A screwing motion, six;
For four will give the axial line,
One more the pitch will fix;
And hence we always can contrive
One screw reciprocal to five.
Screws--two, three, four or five, combined
(No question here of six),
Yield other screws which are confined
Within one screw complex.
Thus we obtain the clearest notion
Of freedom and constraint of motion.
In complex III., three several screws
At every point you find,
Or if you one direction choose,
One screw is to your mind;
And complexes of order III.
Their own reciprocals may be.
In IV., wherever you arrive,
You find of screws a cone,
On every line in complex V.
There is precisely one;
At each point of this complex rich,
A plane of screws have given pitch.
But time would fail me to discourse
Of Order and Degree;
Of Impulse, Energy and Force,
All these and more, for motions small,
Have been discussed by Dr. Ball.
MOORLANDS OF THE NOT
Across the moorlands of the Not
We chase the gruesome When;
And hunt the Itness of the What
Through forests of the Then.
Into the Inner Consciousness
We track the crafty Where;
We spear the Ego tough, and beard
The Selfhood in his lair.
With lassos of the brain we catch
The Isness of the Was;
And in the copses of the Whence
We hear the think bees buzz.
We climb the slippery Whichbark tree
To watch the Thusness roll
And pause betimes in gnostic rimes
To woo the Over Soul.
Why and Wherefore set out one day
To hunt for a wild Negation.
They agreed to meet at a cool retreat
On the Point of Interrogation.
But the night was dark and they missed their mark,
And, driven well-nigh to distraction,
They lost their ways in a murky maze
Of utter abstruse abstraction.
Then they took a boat and were soon afloat
On a sea of Speculation,
But the sea grew rough, and their boat, though tough,
Was split into an Equation.
As they floundered about in the waves of doubt
Rose a fearful Hypothesis,
Who gibbered with glee as they sank in the sea,
And the last they saw was this:
On a rock-bound reef of Unbelief
There sat the wild Negation;
Then they sank once more and were washed ashore
At the Point of Interrogation.
If echoes from the fitful past
Could rise to mental view,
Would all their fancied radiance last
Or would some odors from the blast,
Untouched by Time, accrue?
Is present pain a future bliss,
Or is it something worse?
For instance, take a case like this:
Is fancied kick a real kiss,
Or rather the reverse?
Is plenitude of passion palled
By poverty of scorn?
Does Fiction mend where Fact has mauled?
Has Death its wisest victims called
When idiots are born?
_In Mystic_ Argot _often Confounded with Farrago_
If aught that stumbles in my speech
Or stutters in my pen,
Or, claiming tribute, each to each,
Rise, not to fall again,
Let something lowlier far, for me,
Through evanescent shades--
Than which my spirit might not be
Nourished in fitful ecstasy
Not less to know but more to see
Where that great Bliss pervades.
_Supposed to be Translated from the Old Parsee_
Twine then the rays
Round her soft Theban tissues!
All will be as She says,
When that dead past reissues.
Matters not what nor where,
Hark, to the moon's dim cluster!
How was her heavy hair
Lithe as a feather duster!
Matters not when nor whence;
Sounds make the song, not sense,
Thus I inhibit!
TIMON OF ARCHIMEDES
As one who cleaves the circumambient air
Seeking in azure what it lacks in space,
And sees a young and finely chiselled face
Filled with foretastes of wisdom yet more rare;
Touching and yet untouched--unmeasured grace!
A breathing credo and a living prayer--
Yet of the earth, still earthy; debonair
The while in heaven it seeketh for a place.
So thy dear eyes and thy kind lips but say--
Ere from his cerements Timon seems to flit:
"What of the reaper grim with sickle keen?"
And then the sunlight ushers in new day
And for our tasks our bodies seem more fit--
"Might of the night, unfleeing, sight unseen."
_Charles Battell Loomis_.
I sit in the solitudes of the moonshades,
Soul-hungering in the moonshade solitudes sit I--
My heart-lifts beaten down in the wild wind-path.
Oppressed, and scourged and beaten down are my heart-lifts.
I fix my gaze on the eye-star, and the eye-star flings its dart
I wonder why my soul is lost in wonder why I am,
And why the eye-star mocks me,
Why the wild wind beats down my heart-lifts;
Why I am stricken here in the moonshade solitudes.
Oh! why am I what I am,
And why am I anything?
Am I not as wild as the wind and more crazy?
Why do I sit in the moonshade, while the eye-star mocks me while I
ask what I am?
LINES BY A MEDIUM
I might not, if I could;
I should not, if I might;
Yet if I should I would,
And, shoulding, I should quite!
I must not, yet I may;
I can, and still I must;
But ah! I cannot--nay,
To must I may not, just!
I shall, although I will,
But be it understood,
If I may, can, shall--still
I might, could, would, or should!
It is told, in Buddhi-theosophic schools,
There are rules,
By observing which, when mundane labor irks
One can simulate quiescence
By a timely evanescence
From his Active Mortal Essence,
(Or his Works.)
The particular procedure leaves research
In the lurch,
But, apparently, this matter-moulded form
Is a kind of outer plaster,
Which a well-instructed Master
Can remove without disaster
When he's warm.
And to such as mourn an Indian Solar Clime
At its prime
'Twere a thesis most immeasurably fit,
So expansively elastic,
And so plausibly fantastic,
That one gets enthusiastic
For a bit.
_From the Times of India_.