Friday, February 6, 2015

Do you think, at your age, it is right?

illustration by Sir John Tenniel, 1865

Charming nonsense from Alice in Wonderland today:

‘You are old, Father William’
by Lewis Carroll

“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 have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door –
Pray, what is the reason of 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 the 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 father, “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 downstairs!”


Liz is the Poetry Friday round-up host today.


jama said...

Oh, what fun! Didn't realize there was a Father William song too :). Enjoyed the recitation. Thanks for the smiles today, T!

Liz Steinglass said...

This is so fun! I love it.

Anonymous said...

That was funny, and I had never seen it before. What a pleasure. Thanks!!

Donna Smith said...

Years ago my daughter took it upon herself to memorize this poem. It was sung/recited in the Alice in Wonderland production for TV that had all the great names in it like Ringo Star, Telly Savalas, Red Buttons, Ann Jillian, Roddy McDowall, Carol Channing and more:

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh, this definitely brings chuckles! Thanks so much for sharing, and for scaring up these two versions. That young man did quite a lovely job reciting it!
Here's to growing old.... !

Catherine said...

My high school chorus sang "You Are Old, Father William" for our spring concert one year, many years ago, and sometimes this poem just pops into my head. The tune we sang it to was different than the one They Might Be Giants used, but it was fun hearing both of these versions. Thanks for sharing this today!

Mary Lee said...

I think I have a crush on that boy who's reciting the poem!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Oh Lewis Carroll. You may be old, but you DO know how it's done! Thanks for the fun post, Tabatha.

Diane Mayr said...

Poor Father William! I think his cheeky son should cut him a break: "You are old..."as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat."

Now I have to run off to YouTube for a dose of "the sun is a mass of incandescent gas..." Love the way They Might be Giants tackle science!

Doraine said...

Such fun!

Robyn Campbell said...

Fabulous! That young guy did a wonderful job, for sure. What a poem. Thank you for making me laugh today. :-)

Tara said...

Love the twisted humor in his - so very English!

Sally Murphy said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I loved this poem as a kid.

GatheringBooks said...

Oh dear Tabatha, this is just the thing to make me smile today! Standing on one's head as guilty pleasure - how much more awesome can it get, really. :)