Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. I. Of Home: of Friendship
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume I. Of Home: of Friendship.  1904.
Poems of Home: III. Fun for Little Folk
Edward Lear (1812–1888)
From “A Book of Nonsense”

THERE was an Old Man with a nose,
Who said, “If you choose to suppose
That my nose is too long, you are certainly wrong!”
That remarkable Man with a nose.
There was a Young Person of Smyrna,        5
Whose Grandmother threatened to burn her;
But she seized on the Cat, and said, “Granny, burn that!
You incongruous Old Woman of Smyrna!”
There was an Old Person of Chili,
Whose conduct was painful and silly;        10
He sate on the stairs, eating apples and pears,
That imprudent Old Person of Chili.
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!        15
It ’s a regular brute of a Bee.”
There was an Old Man in a boat,
Who said, “I ’m afloat! I ’m afloat!”
When they said, “No, you ain’t!” he was ready to faint,
That unhappy Old Man in a boat.        20
There was an Old Person of Buda,
Whose conduct grew ruder and ruder,
Till at last with a hammer they silenced his clamor,
By smashing that Person of Buda.
There was an Old Man of Kamschatka,        25
Who possessed a remarkably fat cur;
His gait and his waddle were held as a model
To all the fat dogs in Kamschatka.
There was an Old Man of Aôsta
Who possessed a large Cow, but he lost her;        30
But they said, “Don’t you see she has run up a tree,
You invidious Old Man of Aôsta?”
There was a Young Lady of Clare,
Who was madly pursued by a Bear;
When she found she was tired, she abruptly expired,        35
That unfortunate Lady of Clare.
There was an Old Person of Cromer,
Who stood on one leg to read Homer;
When he found he grew stiff, he jumped over the cliff,
Which concluded that Person of Cromer.        40
There was an Old Man who said, “Well!
Will nobody answer this bell?
I have pulled day and night, till my hair has grown white,
But nobody answers this bell!”
There was an old man of Toulouse,        45
Who purchased a new pair of shoes;
When they asked, “Are they pleasant?” he said, “Not at present!”
That turbid old man of Toulouse.
There was an Old Man of the Nile,
Who sharpened his nails with a file,        50
Till he cut off his thumbs, and said calmly, “This comes
Of sharpening one’s nails with a file!”
There was an Old Man of the Dee,
Who was sadly annoyed by a Flea;
When he said, “I will scratch it!” they gave him a hatchet,        55
Which grieved that Old Man of the Dee.
There was an Old Man on some rocks,
Who shut his Wife up in a box:
When she said, “Let me out,” he exclaimed, “Without doubt
You will pass all your life in that box.”        60
There was an Old Man who said “How
Shall I flee from this horrible Cow?
I will sit on this stile, and continue to smile,
Which may soften the heart of that Cow.”
There was an Old Man who said, “Hush!        65
I perceive a young bird in this bush!”
When they said, “Is it small?” he replied, “Not at all;
It is four times as big as the bush!”
There was an Old Person of Hurst,
Who drank when he was not athirst;        70
When they said, “You ’ll grow fatter!” he answered “What matter?”
That globular Person of Hurst.
There was an Old Person whose habits
Induced him to feed upon Rabbits;
When he ’d eaten eighteen, he turned perfectly green,        75
Upon which he relinquished those habits.
There was an Old Man of the West,
Who wore a pale plum-colored vest;
When they said, “Does it fit?” he replied, “Not a bit!”
That uneasy Old Man of the West.        80
There was an Old Man of Marseilles,
Whose daughters wore bottle-green veils:
They caught several Fish, which they put in a dish,
And sent to their Pa at Marseilles.
There was a Young Lady of Norway,        85
Who casually sat in a doorway;
When the door squeezed her flat, she exclaimed, “What of that?”
This courageous Young Lady of Norway.
There was an old Person of Philæ,
Whose conduct was scroobious and wily;        90
He rushed up a Palm when the weather was calm,
And observed all the ruins of Philæ.
There was once an old man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!—
  Two Owls and a Hen,        95
  Four Larks and a Wren
Have all built their nests in my beard.”
There was an old person of Ware
Who rode on the back of a bear;
  When they said, “Does it trot?”        100
  He said: “Certainly not,
It ’s a Moppsikon Floppsikon bear.”
There was a young lady in blue,
Who said, “Is it you? Is it you?”
When they said, “Yes, it is,” she replied only, “Whizz!”        105
That ungracious young lady in blue.
There was a young lady of Greenwich,
Whose garments were bordered with Spinach;
But a large spotty Calf bit her shawl quite in half,
Which alarmed that young lady of Greenwich.        110
There was an old man, who when little
Fell casually into a kettle;
But, growing too stout, he could never get out,
So he passed all his life in that kettle.

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