My first recollection of Lewis Carroll’s poem “You are old father william” is hearing it read by Mr Delacruz, a wonderful teacher at the Royal School for the Blind (Wavertree School) in Liverpool. It is a marvelous piece of nonsense verse and never fails to raise a smile whenever I read it.


“You are old, father William,” the young man said, 
“And your hair has become very white; 
And yet you incessantly stand on your head 
Do you think, at your age, it is right?

“In my youth,” father William replied to his son, 
“I feared it might injure the brain; 
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none, 
Why, I do it again and again.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “as I mentioned before, 
And you have grown most uncommonly fat; 
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door 
Pray what is the reason for that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks, 
“I kept all my limbs very supple 
By the use of this ointment one shilling a box 
Allow me to sell you a couple?”

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak 
For anything tougher than suet; 
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak 
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his fater, “I took to the law, 
And argued each case with my wife; 
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw, 
Has lasted the rest of my life.”

“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose 
That your eye was as steady as ever; 
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose 
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,” 
Said his father. “Don’t give yourself airs! 
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff? 
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs. 




About kevinmorris101

I live and work in London and blog as a hobby. If you would like to contact me please send an email to animalia at (the address is rendered in this manner in order to try and defeat spammers)!
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