Tagged: nonsense verse Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • mistermuse 12:23 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Jack and Jill, nonsense verse, nursery rhyme,   


    Jack and Jill went up the hill
    To fetch a pail of water.
    Jack fell down and broke his crown
    And Jill came tumbling after.
    –Old English nursery rhyme

    • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Doesn’t it seem odd that Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water? A water well is seldom found on top a hill, and streams flow downhill, so why climb uphill for water which could be fetched below with far less effort? It seems that the English had a penchant for verse that makes little sense, as epitomized by 19th Century nonsense-verse masters Lewis Carroll, W. S. Gilbert and the subject of my May 12 post, Edward Lear.

    Well, what’s good enough for those three
    is more than good enough for me,
    so for the third or more post in a row,
    with nonsense verse I shall go:


    Hello, Joe! Whatta you know?
    Hello, Will! I don’t know Jack. Whatta you know?
    I know Jack. Do you know Jill?
    Jack and Jill from up the hill?
    I thought you said you don’t know Jack.
    I don’t know Jack; I know Jack and Jill.

    Say what…you will: if you know Jill, you know Jack.
    Say what? You Will. I Joe. I mean, I’m Joe. Just so you know.
    I know you Joe! Now back to Jack…
    I don’t know Jack. Why bring up Jill ?
    So ends our tale of woe, and of Joe & Will
    Who don’t know Jack and never will.

    • myatheistlife 2:18 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Jack and Jill
      went up the hill
      each with a buck and a quarter
      Jill came down with a buck and a half
      do you think Jack went up for water?

      Liked by 1 person

    • mistermuse 5:30 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Not if nine months later
      Jill broke water
      And had a son or daughter


    • Don Frankel 5:31 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      “Jack and Jill went up the hill
      Each with a buck and a quarter
      Jill came down with two fifty.”

      That’s the way I heard it.


    • mistermuse 6:51 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      That would seem to make more cents, Don.


    • arekhill1 8:17 am on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Andrew Dice Clay already had his fifteen minutes, men. If I had to pick somebody’s career to resuscitate, his would be way down on the list.


    • mistermuse 2:07 pm on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      The name sounded vaguely familiar, but I had to wikipedia Andrew Dice Clay to refresh my memory and get the connection. It seems that in 1989 MTV banned him for reciting “adult nursery rhymes.” So now I recall he was a foul-mouthed stand-up comedian with no discernible redeeming qualities. R.I.P. (even though he’s still among us).


    • Joseph Nebus 9:48 pm on May 17, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I have heard the occasional attempt to claim “Jack and Jill” as a political satire. I forget the details, but I’m skeptical. My gut instinct is that trying to read nonsense verse as political satire is often assigning a meaning that wasn’t in the original writer’s intent. Nonsense is appealing because it is nonsense.

      Liked by 1 person

  • mistermuse 11:46 am on May 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Book of Nonsense, , , limericks, nonsense songs, nonsense verse, , , , The Owl and the Pussy-Cat   


    The uncertainty began with his birth. Born 12 May 1812, Lear was the 20th of 21 children. Many of the Lear offspring did not live beyond infancy. Though he lived to be 75, his health was always delicate. At age five, he experienced his first epileptic seizure. For Lear this “Demon,” as he dubbed his affliction, was a mark of shame. Much of his self-imposed isolation from those he loved derived from his need to hide his condition from them. -poetryfoundation.org

    I propose we toast beer to queer Mr. Lear and his health —
    A man they say was born this day (in 1812 on May 12th).
    Who was Lear, you may ask?
    I will save me the task
    By letting him tell you himself:

    HOW PLEASANT TO KNOW MR. LEAR (by Edward Lear)

    How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!
    Who has written such volumes of stuff!
    Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
    But a few think him pleasant enough.

    His mind is concrete and fastidious,
    His nose is remarkably big;
    His visage is more or less hideous,
    His beard it resembles a wig.

    He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers;
    Leastways if you reckon two thumbs;
    Long ago he was one of the singers,
    But now he is one of the dumbs.

    He sits in a beautiful parlour,
    With hundreds of books on the wall;
    He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
    But never gets tipsy at all.

    He has many friends, laymen and clerical;
    Old Foss is the name of his cat;
    His body is perfectly spherical,
    He weareth a runcible hat.

    When he walks in a waterproof white,
    The children run after him so!
    Calling out, ‘He’s come out in his night-
    Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!’

    He weeps by the side of the ocean,
    He weeps on the top of the hill;
    He purchases pancakes and lotion,
    And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

    He reads but he cannot speak Spanish,
    He cannot abide ginger-beer:
    Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
    How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

    If ever there was a man after my own heart (or I a man after his heart), it is the great Laureate of Nonsense, Edward Lear. To quote the late British author, editor and bibliophile Holbrook Jackson:

    There was something preposterous about Edward Lear, amiably preposterous. He might have stepped out of one of his own nonsense books, and he seemed to know it and to make the most of it. He pokes fun at himself even when he is serious, and his letters dance with caricatures of his own plump figure, high-domed brow, and bushy whiskers. By profession he was a painter of birds and landscapes, by habit a wanderer, a humorist and a grumbler. Even his puns have a style of their own which often trips over the boundaries of humor into his own rightful realm of nonsense.

    How pleasant indeed to know Mr. Lear, a man of manifold talents without peer! And how fitting that, whether by coincidence or what, May 12 is Limerick Day (as well as Mr. Lear’s birthday), for he was the first to popularize the limerick. Here is one of his many:

    There was an Old Man, on whose nose,
    Most birds of the air could repose;
    But they all flew away,
    At the closing of day,
    Which relieved that Old Man and his nose.

    And how better to close, than with two videos:

    • BroadBlogs 12:15 pm on May 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      I love “the owl and the pussycat” First book that my mom thought I’d read — I’d actually memorized it (at least parts).

      Liked by 1 person

    • Joseph Nebus 11:00 pm on May 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Oh, I’m not so much on ginger beer myself. I’m long past being spherical, though.


    • mistermuse 11:35 pm on May 12, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Ginger Rogers and gingerbread, I know well, but not ginger beer –
      Though ginger is good for what ales you – or at least, so I hear.


    • arekhill1 8:15 am on May 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      Is “The Owl and the Pussycat” actually a parody (thickly concealed) of Ulysses?


    • mistermuse 10:22 am on May 13, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      James Joyce’s novel ULYSSES was written after Lear’s death, but Lear’s contemporary and good friend Tennyson’s poem ULYSSES speaks of sailing beyond the sunset to “touch the Happy Isles.” If Tennyson wrote his poem before “The Owl and the Pussycat,” afflation seems conceivable.


    • Don Frankel 8:14 am on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      “Every inch a King.”

      Oh no, that’s the other Lear. But well done Muse. I’d never heard of this guy.


    • mistermuse 9:32 am on May 15, 2015 Permalink | Reply

      My guess is that few people outside of those interested in humorous verse have heard of Edward Lear. He was a talented artist, illustrator, and musician (piano, accordion, flute, guitar) of note, but when it comes to nonsense verse and wordplay, he rates being included with the likes of Lewis Carroll and W. S. Gilbert.


Compose new post
Next post/Next comment
Previous post/Previous comment
Show/Hide comments
Go to top
Go to login
Show/Hide help
shift + esc