Monday 17 July 2017

My English Teachers Would Be Wincing Right About Now

It's Poetry Monday ... with a twist! We have the option of using a suggested theme now, and this week's theme is NONSENSE. Don't forget to head over to Diane's and Delores' blogs to see what they've come up with, and feel free to leave a poem of any kind, using the theme or not, in the comments at any of our blogs, or on your own blog (just leave us a link so we can find you).


When my mother used to tell my brother and I to "Stop that nonsense!" she meant that we were being naughty, misbehaving, or otherwise getting on her nerves and we'd better settle down.

But when I looked up the definition of the word "nonsense" I found that there is another meaning directly related to poetry: verse or other writing intended to be amusing by virtue of its absurd or whimsical language ("nonsense poetry").

Because I spent the weekend (1) recovering from last week's work and travel and (2) cleaning out the fridge and attached freezer, a job that has apparently not been completely done since 2008, because, yes, I found a couple of things in there with that date on them, and to be completely and embarrassingly honest the only reason I was now emptying it was because great quantities of water have been pooling in the bottom and we needed to move it out of its snug little hole in the wall in order to clean the coils at the back in the vague hope that it would do some good, and it's also been freezing food in the refrigerator section which is very inconvenient if you've got, say, raw carrots for snacking on since you're trying to lose weight and have you ever tried to eat a frozen raw carrot? well it's not all that delicious and when you have sensitive teeth it's not all that comfortable either.

I see that sentence fragment has gotten away from me in a way that entire paragraphs have not gotten away from me in a long time.

So, to make a long story shorter (because it can't be made "short" now, no matter what), I was tied up this weekend and although I kept thinking about our Poetry Monday theme (thinking consisting of putting the word up in front of my mind's eye and letting random thoughts float past), I didn't get any flashes of inspiration, and when I sat down to try to make inspiration behave with hard work instead, I came up dry as well.

The only reasonable thing to do at that point was to Google "nonsense poetry" and ...


There I found a poem that I can dimly recall my brother reciting to me when we were young. He was four years my senior, so perhaps I should say *I* was young, while he was old enough to teach me a few things, both good and bad, that I probably wouldn't have stumbled into on my own. But that's a story (or a bunch of them) for another time.

Anyway, I now bring you this nonsense poem, not from my fertile mind or the sweat of my brow, but from the mists of history, of verses passed down from generation to generation, with many variants (which you can read HERE if you wish). I chose the following version, because it encompasses the best of the variants, in my opinion, and also because the authors of the website where it came from (HERE) explained their reasoning for editing it as they did.

I expect that many or maybe all of you have heard some version of this while growing up.

One Fine Day

One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight, 
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,

One was blind and the other couldn’t see,
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”

A paralyzed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man - he saw it too!

Footnote 1: After I wrote all of those words up there ^^^ I read the introduction on the BC Folklore website cited above, and discovered that the authors don't consider this poem to be true nonsense poetry ... but you can read more about that at the link.

Footnote 2: I think there are some words in this poem that are not politically correct.

Footnote 3: I feel like I've just written a very badly done term paper for English class because I've spent the weekend doing the wrong things (leisure and home chores), but the time has come to pass it in and this is it, folks ...

Footnote 4: I did manage to remember the elusive post topic mentioned in Friday's post, and have come up with another as well. If I write them on a piece of paper, the paper will probably get lost in the flotsam from the freezer that is sitting thawing on the kitchen counter, so instead, I'll write them here! (1) earworm (music), and (2) summer festivals. There. I'm so proud of myself.

If only I can remember where I wrote the ideas down when I need them.

There's nothing else to add, really.

Have a good week, folks!



Elephant's Child said...

The poem you shared (nonsense or not) is very, very familiar.
I have always liked this gem from Spike Milligan (I think).
'There are holes in the sky
where the rain gets in.
They are ever so small, thats why rain is thin'.
Sigh on the fridge/freezer front. We have a chest freezer. I cannot reach the bottom. I don't want to think what might be in there, but won't discount mastadon steaks.

jenny_o said...

Oh, I like that poem, and I will think of it when it rains, now.

Mastadon steaks - lol except ours probably has them too ... that job is waiting in the wings ...

Hugs back, my friend.

Geo. said...

Hadn't heard of poem but am no stranger to nonsense, or its value to good mental hygiene. It reads almost like a Sufi Tale (Idries Shah). I offer my own poem from 1970 --accompanied by a film clip of Norma, me and 1st child standing beside our 1st family vehicle, a '52 Dodge 3/4 ton pickup truck. Please see "Invalid's Workshop" at

only slightly confused said...

Are you sure that poem isn't about politicians.

baili said...

Fantastic write up dear Jenny!

sorry for the fridge mess. it happened to me once some years back and since then i keep alert to keep it tidy to work fine.

You came up with really funny poem and how nice that exactly such subject exist in native language which i used to read in book from school library .

thank you for sharing it i am reading it third time and enjoying it with laughs provoked by childhood memories

Red said...

I don't think I've ever seen anybody work so hard to find some nonsense. You worked around the nonsense theme very well. a fun post with your stories.

jenny_o said...

Thank you for joining in, Geo.! I've read and watched and will comment this evening!

jenny_o said...

Haha! You could be right :)

jenny_o said...

How interesting that the same poem was in your book in your language in school! It really must be a common theme. I'm glad you enjoyed re-reading it!

jenny_o said...

There's the teacher in you, trying to find something good to say, Red - thank you :) I bet you had a few procrastinators in your years of teaching!

Anonymous said...

I can't say that I've heard that poem Jenny. Spike Milligan was one of the best for nonsense poems

My nonsense poem isn't really nonsense, but it's the best I could come up with.

The cow bellowed, "moo"
And the sheep bleated, "baa".
Are they saying, "hi, hello",
Or are they saying "ta-ra"?.

The snake slithers in the grass,
The fish it swims in the sea.
Do you think they thought at all,
That they were missing a knee?

Are zebras one and the same
Or, are there two different types?
What colour are they underneath
And what colour are their stripes?

Have a good week.

Joan (Devon)

dinthebeast said...

Nonsense! It reminds me of Fireside Books at the mall in Eureka, where one summer day my best friend and I were laughing so hard we were crying over a book called "The Power of Positive Nonsense" by Leo Rosten. I don't remember much about the book, except the part we were laughing so hard about. It was a chapter on spoonerisms, which are phrases said with parts of the sound switched that cause them to mean something else entirely. The specific one from that book was "Our lord is a shoving leopard."
The poem does seem familiar, and frozen baby carrots are murder of one's teeth. When our 'fridge froze some a while back, I cooked them in some rice-a-roni so as to save what's left of my teeth.

-Doug in Oakland

DB Stewart said...

I'm an English teacher and I'm not wincing at all. Nonsense is fun. Thumbs up.

Janie Junebug said...

My English teachers are probably dead. I don't care if they wince, and you shouldn't care about yours. I like nonsense. I hope the refrigerator comes back to life. I have sensitive teeth, too.


e said...

I love this theme. Much can be done with it and I'm not wincing, either!

jenny_o said...

I love it, especially the zebra part - which colour are those stripes anyway?! Thanks for joining in, Joan.

jenny_o said...

Hahaha! That sounds like a fun book. And I would have cooked my carrots, except I'm not fond of cooked carrots. I should have cooked them in rice-a-roni, that would be completely different.

jenny_o said...

Oooh, thank you - is a thumbs up like a gold star? :)

jenny_o said...

One of the English teachers in my life is my mother, but she doesn't use computers so she doesn't read my drivel, so it's all good :)

Sensitive teeth are bad, bad, bad.

jenny_o said...

Well, I'm impressed by how many people are not wincing!! But it's not as satisfying as if I'd written my own poem. I just couldn't get started, and I kept looking at the clock, which didn't help matters :)

Martha said...

HAHA! I had a good laugh with this poem. And would you look at that? It's even got the word 'donkey' in it. It's so perfect!

River said...

I remember "One Fine Day", but only ever memorised the first verse. I think it's hilarious and couldn't care less about PC

River said...

I've heard the skin under the stripes is black, so it stands to reason the white are the stripes over black. But don't take my word for it.

jenny_o said...

Hah! I noticed the donkey in there, too, and smiled :)

jenny_o said...

I'd like to know who came up with it to begin with - they were clever :)

Janie Junebug said...

I have to let the water warm up so I can brush my teeth.

jenny_o said...

I hear you ... and then at the dentist they use cool water and that's definitely not cool.

Yorkshire Pudding said...


When you broke my heart
I had no idea how to fix it
The manual was lost
I gathered the pieces
Meticulously rearranging them
Like a jigsaw puzzle
Then squeezed superglue
Between the cracks.
It worked for a while -
I was getting by
Until that Thursday evening
When I saw you
By the dairy aisle
In Sainsburys
And there it fell apart once more
Bits of my heart all over the floor.

Terry said...

Not political correctness!
It was a good poem until then. (and I don't like poems).
Some great written work.

jenny_o said...

Thanks for joining in, YP. Sounds like you have/had a bit of a heart problem :)

jenny_o said...

Thanks for reading, Terry. I appreciate that you keep reading despite not liking poetry!

Diane Henders said...

I love the procrastinating kitty! If only I could be so relaxed...

That nonsense poem keeps tugging at my brainstrings - it feels like a riddle, and if you could just find the right key it would all make sense! But I suspect that's just my hardwired little brain trying to find logic where there is none. :-)

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Everybody has but I was thinking of another blogger's daughter who has recently split with her long time boyfriend.

jenny_o said...

Dang it, YP - I never know when to take you seriously. But I know that lady's hurt is serious. And yes, most of us (if not all) have felt it too.

jenny_o said...

I have a sneaking suspicion that kitty might have been coming out of anesthesia, judging by how very relaxed our cats were after surgery. Or maybe some cats sleep like that!

At least your brain is trying to make it make sense! My brain just goes, OH! isn't that funny! You could slip a lot of things past me that way.

Jono said...

Wow! I remember that poem from about age thirteen, but hadn't thought about it for decades. Amazing how that kind of thing stays with you even when you are not aware of it.
The cat has achieved nirvana. We can learn from this.

Steve Reed said...

I've never heard that "poem." I'll leave it to the experts to determine whether it's really poetry or not -- but it's amusing. As for your fridge problems, we have a similar issue here. Let me know if cleaning the coils works for you -- we might try the same thing!

jenny_o said...

It IS amazing, isn't it? Sometimes it feels like accessing something from a dusty old filing cabinet in a dark basement. To all appearances forgotten, but still there in the murk :)

jenny_o said...

Of course it's a poem!!

Cleaning the coils didn't help but it sure didn't hurt. With three cats it was pretty hairy back there. I have since realized that the drain line is plugged, whether with ice or a piece of food. I suspect ice because I keep the fridge super cold. I'm gradually turning up the temperature to try to thaw it out. Pouring hot water into the line (which is suggested on the internet) didn't work for me but it might for a different fridge. Good luck!

John M said...

Made me smile

jenny_o said...

Smiling is good :)