Arts & Culture

A Collection of Humorous Verse

To make up for the apparent lack of humor in my April Fool’s article– perhaps it was a bit too believable– everyone gets to enjoy some actually funny poems this month!  Poets approach humor the same way they do many other things–that is, seriously.  Nevertheless, many of the most famous poets have tried their hand at nonsense, satire, and everything in between.  Some poets have even specialized solely in humor like Carolyn Wells, the author of “Diversions of the Re-Echo Club”, a collection of parodies of famous poems themed around purple cows.  The world of humorous verse is diverse and deep, with many poems becoming only truly enjoyable once the reader has a solid foundation in the classic poetry which it parodies.  However, there are countless poems one can appreciate without further research, including limericks and children’s poetry.

Limericks are easily identifiable by their five-line structure and AABBA rhyme scheme, but also by their themes: poets often use them for plays on words, dubious rhymes, nonsensical stories (about made-up people), and simply being silly.  They’re fun to write, too.

Here are some examples (written by anonymous poets):


There was a young woman named Bright,

Whose speed was much faster than light.

She set out one day,

In a relative way,

And returned on the previous night.


An epicure dining at Crewe, 

Found quite a large mouse in his stew.

Said the waiter, “Don’t shout,

And wave it about,

Or the rest will be wanting one, too!”


A sleeper from the Amazon

Put nighties of his gra’mazon–

The reason, that

He was too fat

To get his own pajamazon.


A beautiful lady named Psyche

Is loved by a fellow named Yche.

One thing about Ych

The lady can’t lych

Is his beard, which is dreadfully spyche.


There was a young fellow named Hall,

Who fell in the spring in the fall.

‘Twoud have been a sad thing

If he’d died in the spring,

But he didn’t–he died in the fall.


“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll (originally in his book Through the Looking Glass) belongs in a class of its own, the Nonsense poem, which it shares with the poems of Edward Lear, whom you may also remember from childhood.  Recite this poem and confound all in your vicinity:


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.


“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch!”


He took his vorpal sword in hand:

Long time the manxome foe he sought.

So rested he by the Tumtum tree,

And stood awhile in thought.


And as in uffish thought he stood,

The Jabberwock with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

And burbled as it came!


One, two!  One, two!  And through, and through

The vorpal sword went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

He went galumphing back.


“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

Oh, frabjous day!  Callooh! Callay!”

He chortled in his joy.


‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.


Two other poets worthy of mention are Jack Prelutsky and Shel Silverstein, who publish children’s poems accompanied by funny and explanatory illustrations.  Shel Silverstein’s poems are lyrically rhymed, hilariously tragic, and usually fantastical–for instance, his characters include a king who only eats peanut butter sandwiches, a boy who erases his sister, and a pet rhinoceros. Jack Prelutsky, like professional humor poets, enjoys playing with puns, while also exploring children’s topics like monsters, animals, food, and friendship.  But don’t take it from me–go check out some of their books, and share them with little siblings!


“The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No” by Shel Silverstein

It was nine o’clock at midnight at a quarter after three

When a turtle met a bagpipe on the shoreside by the sea,

And the turtle said, “My dearie,

May I sit with you?  I’m weary.”

And the bagpipe didn’t say no.


Said the turtle to the bagpipe, “I have walked this lonely shore,

I have talked to waves and pebbles–but I’ve never loved before.

Will you marry me today, dear?

Is it ‘No’ you’re going to say, dear?”

But the bagpipe didn’t say no.


Said the turtle to his darling, “Please excuse me if I stare,

But you have the plaidest skin, dear,

And you have the strangest hair.

If I begged you pretty please, love,

Could I give you just one squeeze, love?”

And the bagpipe didn’t say no.


Said the turtle to the bagpipe, “Ah, you love me.  Then confess!

Let me whisper in your dainty ear and hold me to my chest.”

And he cuddled and he teased her

And so lovingly he squeezed her.

And the bagpipe said, “Aaooga.”


Said the turtle to the bagpipe, “Did you honk or bray or neigh?

For ‘Aaooga’ when you’re kissed is such a heartless thing to say.

Is it that I have offended?

Is it that our love has ended?”

And the bagpipe didn’t say no.


Said the turtle to the bagpipe, “Shall I leave you, darling wife?

Shall I waddle off to Woedom?  Shall I crawl out of your life?

Shall I move, depart and go, dear–

Oh, I beg you tell me ‘No,’ dear!”

But the bagpipe didn’t say no.


So the turtle crept off crying and he ne’er came back no more,

And he left the bagpipe lying on that smooth and sandy shore.

And some night when tide is low there,

Just walk up and say “Hello, there,”

And politely ask the bagpipe if this story’s really so.

I assure you, darling children, that the bagpipe won’t say “No.”


This is my last article of the year (for real this time), so with a heavy heart and a mind ready to be done with finals, I bid you goodbye–for now.  I’ll miss writing for clay over the summer, but I hope everyone enjoys their break and gets to catch up on their reading lists!


Photo Credit:



“Jack Prelutsky.” Poetry Foundation, Poetry Foundation, 

McCord, David. The Pocket Book of Humorous Verse. Coward-McCann, Inc., 1946. 

Silverstein, Shel. “The Bagpipe Who Didn’t Say No.” Where the Sidewalk Ends: The Poems and Drawings of Shel Silverstein, HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY, 2002, pp. 132–133. 

Wells, Carolyn. The Book of Humorous Verse. Garden City Publishing Co., 1936. 


  1. lol those were great! Thanks Emma! 🙂

  2. Elizabeth Nelson

    LOL! thanks for this! these are hilarious!

  3. What a great choice of poems, thank you so much for making me laugh 🙂