A Book of Nonsense – Edward Lear

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.”
There was an Old Person of Rheims,
Who was troubled with horrible dreams;
So to keep him awake they fed him with cake,
Which amused that Old Person of Rheims.
There was an Old Man of Leghorn,
The smallest that ever was born;
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 Man on a hill,
Who seldom, if ever, stood still;
He ran up and down in his Grandmother’s
gown,
Which adorned that Old Man on a hill.
There was an Old Person of Chili,
Whose conduct was painful and silly;
He sate on the stairs, eating apples and pears,
That imprudent Old Person of Chili.
There was an Old Man with a gong,
Who bumped at it all the day long;
But they called out, “Oh, law! you’re a horrid
But quickly snapt up he was once by a Puppy,
Who devoured that Old Man of Leghorn.
There was an Old Man in a pew,
Whose waistcoat was spotted with blue;
But he tore it in pieces, to give to his Nieces,
That cheerful Old Man in a pew.
There was an Old Man of Jamaica,
Who suddenly married a Quaker;
But she cried out, “Oh, lack! I have married a
black!”
Which distressed that Old Man of Jamaica.
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.”
old bore!”
So they smashed that Old Man with a gong.
There was an Old Man of Kilkenny,
Who never had more than a penny;
He spent all that money in onions and honey,
That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.
There was an Old Man of Columbia,
Who was thirsty, and called out for some beer;
But they brought it quite hot, in a small copper
pot,
Which disgusted that man of Columbia.
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.”
There was a Young Lady of Troy,
Whom several large flies did annoy;
Some she killed with a thump, some she
drowned at the pump,
And some she took with her to Troy.
There was a Young Lady of Hull,
Who was chased by a virulent Bull;
But she seized on a spade, and called out,
“Who’s afraid?”
Which distracted that virulent Bull.
There was an Old Person of Dutton,
Whose head was as small as a button;
So to make it look big he purchased a wig,
And rapidly rushed about Dutton.


There was an Old Lady of Chertsey,
Who made a remarkable curtsey;
She twirled round and round, till she sank
underground,
Which distressed all the people of Chertsey.
There was a Young Lady whose chin
Resembled the point of a pin;
So she had it made sharp, and purchased a
harp,
And played several tunes with her chin.
There was an Old Man with a flute,—
A “sarpint” ran into his boot!
But he played day and night, till the “sarpint”
took flight,
And avoided that Man with a flute.
There was an Old Man who said, “Hush!
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 a Young Lady of Russia,
Who screamed so that no one could hush her;
Her screams were extreme,—no one heard such
a scream
As was screamed by that Lady of Russia.
There was a Young Lady of Tyre,
Who swept the loud chords of a lyre;
At the sound of each sweep she enraptured the
deep,
And enchanted the city of Tyre.
There was a Young Lady of Portugal,
Whose ideas were excessively nautical;
She climbed up a tree to examine the sea,
But declared she would never leave Portugal.
There was an Old Person of Ischia,
Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier;
He danced hornpipes and jigs, and ate
thousands of figs,
That lively Old Person of Ischia
There was an Old Man of Vienna,
Who lived upon Tincture of Senna;
When that did not agree, he took Camomile
Tea,
That nasty Old Man of Vienna.
There was an Old Person of Bangor,
Whose face was distorted with anger;
He tore off his boots, and subsisted on roots,
That borascible Person of Bangor.
There was an Old Man of the East,
Who gave all his children a feast;
But they all ate so much, and their conduct was
such,
That it killed that Old Man of the East.
There was an Old Man of the Coast,
Who placidly sat on a post;
But when it was cold he relinquished his hold,
And called for some hot buttered toast.

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