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Elizabeth Maulton

Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 35
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 6:55 am    Post subject: Humour. Reply with quote

Having received confirmation from our illustrious moderator that humour
has indeed a place on this Forum, I submit one such.

The Rook Sack
[ rucksack]

What is that bulge in your bag, my friend?
Quoth Henry with whiskers so bushy.
I think there are several rooks inside
Which are croaking and getting quite pushy.

Never fear, Henry dear, for the bulge which you see
Is a cat with a very fat tummy;
Who is feasting tonight on a special delight
Called 'rookery pie' which is yummy.
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, indeed, Elizabeth -- humorous and witty poetry always seems to celebrate language -- and the precision of language -- and that gives it a special place in philosophical studies !

And doesn't the genius of comedy blow away and dispel illusion like nothing else ?

Rumour here and in the Hundred Acre Wood has it that Pooh Bear (or rather W.Edward Bear in his poetic persona) is about to make a contribution to this Forum.. Our readers in Cambridge and elsewhere should know that Pooh feels a special affinity with the poet Rupert Brooke and has studied certain of his poems with CR..
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2008 9:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Christopher Robin and Pooh walked slowly down the path in the woods, treading on the occasional crackly twig.

'CR...' said Pooh, 'What's a Poeh Tree? Is it the same as a Poem, or a hum? '

'Well, Pooh, the very very best Poeh Tree in the world is your own:

'Isn't it funny
how bears like hunny?

It's what I call rum-ti-tum-itry. Everyone likes rum-ti-tum-itry. Even grown-ups. Rum-ti-tum-itry is friendly. Rum-ti-tum-itry is like two friends walking together. Like you and me, Pooh. Which makes you the very best rum-ti-tum-iter in the world...'

'That's tum as in...? ' asked the Very Stout Bear, cautiously.

'As in a Hum' said Christopher Robin. 'But then there's other things in Poetry such as Truth, and Other People Reading It And Nodding. And Similes. And Metaphors. There's a lot in Poetry.'

'What's a Simile, CR? ' asked Pooh. It sounded like what bees said just before they landed on something, like a hunny jar, or Pooh's nose.

'It's when you say something is like something else, to help people imagine it.' said CR.

Pooh had a Think. A Pondery sort of Think.

'Like perhaps - 'happiness is like hunny'? ' asked Pooh tentatively. He suddenly felt very five-to-four-ish at this Thought.

'That's exactly it, Pooh' said Christopher Robin happily. 'Or even sometimes the other way around! '

Pooh felt warm inside - almost like after eating honey - knowing now that a Simile wasn't a threat any more. 'What's a Metaphor, CR? '

'That's rather more difficult, Pooh. It's when you say something is something else, and people know what you mean somehow, and say 'Aha! ' and nod their heads...

Pooh had a longer, Pondery sort of Think.

'Like... teatime means honey? ' he offered hesitantly. Though he knew this was Truth and Other People Nodding, anyway.

'Something like that' said Christopher Robin. 'And then...' he said carefully, in case it was a bit too much for Beloved Bear for one day, but wanting to tell him all the same, 'there's the Extended Metaphor - which I think you might like, Pooh...' (he said hastily In Case) - 'like in a poem by Rupert Brooke, where he says 'Is there hunny still for tea? ' but what he really means is, he's a long way from home and can't get back in time for tea, and feels rather sorry about it...'

'I see...' said Pooh, thoughtfully - like people do who Don't Quite, but like to be polite...

Pooh decided there and then that the Poeh Tree was worth finding, now that he knew three things about it or was it four? It called for an Expedishun.

'Can you talk Poeh Tree, CR? Is it like what we are talking now?

'I think that's called a Prose Poem, Pooh' said Christopher Robin.


It was getting near to what Metaphoric Poets like Edward Bear call Time for a Little Something. Christopher Robin and Pooh turned and walked back slowly, the silence broken now and then by a crackly twig just waiting to be trodden on.

Pooh held Christopher's hand tight, as he was doing a lot of Poetic Thinking. He was wondering how anyone could be so far away from home that they couldn't get back home for tea. And worse, not knowing whether there was hunny in the cupboard or not...

But then he had a little five-to-fourish Hum, when he remembered that there was indeed hunny still for tea...

'Rupert Brooke at ten to three
knew he wouldn't get home for tea;
but now it's nearly five to four;
time for tea and Something More.'

Poetic Bears, you see, know all about Metaphor.
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Mar 21, 2008 10:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

'When should one use a fresh line ?' asked a correspondent, as words skipped and chased and tugged around the page like morning break in the playground...

And I hadn't got an intelligent answer... until I remembered that a little time ago when we were all a little younger, Pooh and CR had discussed this very question...

Pooh Bear and CR Discuss Enjambment

Pooh liked Autumn. Autumn means walking with a scarf round your neck and sometimes seeing your breath in the air like a silent conversation, and wet leaves underfoot and twigs going crackle or sometimes crack! which can be scary if you aren't holding CR's hand.

So here they are, walking together paw-in-hand down the path in Hundred-Acre Wood, and Pooh is humming a happy hum with words looking for it, rather like inquisitive flies that don't quite land on you, wondering if they should stay or not, and how the other flies feel if two of them land together...

'CR..' said Pooh, 'What's en-jamb-ment? ' It sounded like what happens when a wasp gets stuck in a honey jar, or perhaps a marmalade jar.

'That's a long word, Pooh...' said CR, wondering how to explain to a Bear Of Little Brain Yet Poetically Gifted, in the easiest way, when you're not too sure yourself...

'Well...' said CR at last, 'you don't really need it, Pooh, because your Hums all finish each line with a rhyme - so everyone knows just where they are....but suppose you get to the end of a line, and the line looks around like Eeyore does after a big mouthful of juicy autumn grass, and it can't see another line that wants to pair with it in a friendly rhyme.... then if you let it just go on being by itself - like Eeyore - and it's happy to be that way, if occasionally grumbly about it - that's called 'free verse' or 'open verse'..

'So then you can just go on and on without thinking about when to stop... but then if you write it down so that other people can read it without getting out of breath... what 'free verse poets' do is like turning over the page of a book and wondering what's coming - like, is there a scary illustration on the next page, or a Surprise, or only a few lines and THE END - what these poets do, is to treat the lines the same way as pages, so that at the end of each line, you wonder a little bit more than usual, what's coming in the next line... instead of yawning and wondering if it's time for A Little Something...'

'I see..' said Pooh, after this Awful Lot To Take In... in the way you do when you're a Very Polite Bear but don't really see, not yet anyway...

Then he remembered that poem by Rupert Somebody that CR had told him was an Extended Metaphor, which had that memorable line which the Poetic Bear could have written himself: '...and is there hunny still for tea? ...' ; though of course Pooh was always careful, himself, to have a line of hunnypots up there where you could see that the future was golden and hunny-coloured...

'CR...' said Pooh in that happy feeling when the brain seems to be sorting things out for you, ' if you wrote carefully in a book, '... and is there hunny still for tea? ...' you could write it with the first line

...and is there...

and people would wonder what you were going to ask them... or

...and is there hunny...

and they'd wonder, what you were asking about hunny; or

... and is there hunny still...

and they might be suddenly worried that the hunny had run out; or just

...and is there hunny still for tea?

which tells them exactly what you're thinking without making them think too much? '

'Exactly! ' said CR (though it sounded more like 'exackly' because he was happy and excited) ; ' You really are a Poetic Bear, Pooh! '

And he squeezed Pooh's paw in a Spechully Frendly fashion; and a hunny-coloured glow filled Pooh, as one more Useful Thing About Poetry was put into place...

And as they returned home for a Little Something, Pooh was humming a hum with words flying curiously around it wondering whether to land or not, which would be his first Free Verse Hum With Enjambment, which grown-up poets would read with that little extra interest, as they came to the end of each line, and would guess that it was written by W.Edward Bear Esquire, Poet...
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 10:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

One from Linda Proud :


Matt black or patent leather
It all depends on mood and weather.

Like twin tunnels in a mountainside
Through which feline secrets glide.

A nose for sighing and some sneezes
To be touched when madam pleases.

A nose for lifting to the air
When the day is fine and fair.

A nose for twitching with aplomb
At the stench of passing tom.

A nose to quiver in a dream
Of mice and birds and fish in stream.

A nose for purring tummy deep
And covered with a paw in sleep.

Linda Proud
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Stephen Bagnold

Joined: 27 Jun 2007
Posts: 24
Location: Blackheath, London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2008 5:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two favourites:

Welsh incident

"But that was nothing to what things came out
From the sea-caves of Criccieth yonder."
"What were they? Mermaids? dragons? ghosts?"
"Nothing at all of any things like that."
"What were they, then?"
"All sorts of queer things,
Things never seen or heard or written about,
Very strange, un-Welsh, utterly peculiar
Things. Oh solid enough they seemed to touch,
Had anyone dared it. Marvellous creation,
All various shapes and sizes, and no sizes,
All new, each perfectly unlike his neighbour.
Though all came moving slowly out together."
"Describe just one of them."
"I am unable."
"What were their colours?"
"Mostly nameless colours
Colours you would like to see; but one was puce
Or perhaps more like crimson, but not purplish
Some had no colour."
"Tell me, had they legs?"
"Not a leg nor foot among them that I saw."
"But did these things come out in any order?"
What o'clock was it? What was the day of the week?
Who else was present? How was the weather?"
"I was coming to that. It was half past three
On Easter Tuesday last. The sun was shining.
The Harlech Silver Band played Marchog Iesu
On thirty-seven shimmering instruments,
Collecting for Caernarvon's (Fever) Hospital Fund.
The populations of Pwllheli, Criccieth,
Portmadoc, Borth, Tremadoc, Penrhyndeudraeth,
Were all assembled. Criccieth's mayor addressed them
First in good Welsh and then in fluent English.
Twisting his fingers in his chain of office,
Welcoming the things. They came out on the sand,
Not keeping time to the band, moving seaward
Silently at a snail's pace. But at last
The most odd, indescribable thing of all,
Which hardly one man there could see for wonder,
Did something recognizably a something."
"Well what?"
"It made a noise."
"A frightening noise?"
"No, no."
"A musical noise? A noise of scuffling?"
"No, but a very loud, respectable noise -
Like groaning to oneself on Sunday morning
In chapel, close before the second psalm."
"What did the mayor do?"
"I was coming to that."

Robert Graves



If the wild bowler thinks he bowls,
Or if the batsman thinks he’s bowled,
They know not, poor misguided souls,
They too shall perish unconsoled.
I am the batsman and the bat,
I am the bowler and the ball,
The umpire, the pavilion cat,
The roller, pitch, and stumps and all.

Lang, in imitation of Emerson
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2008 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Pooh and CR Discuss Truth (a prose-poem)

Wol’s nephew had found a piece of torn paper in the Wood, from a Big Book, which said ‘Truth is…’ and took it back, rather wet and smudgy, to Wol.

Word got around that Wol’s nephew, who was learning to read, had asked Wol what came next… However, most of the Animals were not very interested, as they went about their busy lives.

But Pooh Bear, who’d heard CR use the word about A Certain Incident, was walking paw in hand with CR through the wood one crispy day, and because there weren’t any other Big Thoughts floating around saying ‘Look at me! ’, said ‘CR, what is truth? ’

Christopher Robin looked down lovingly at Beloved Bear, like you do when you admire someone for asking a Big Question, but aren’t sure quite what to say next…

‘Well, Pooh, ’ he said at last, ‘there’s truth with a small t – like when somehow a plate has jumped out of your hands onto the floor and broken itself, and grown-ups don’t quite believe this, and say, tell me the truth…’

Pooh recognised this. Hunny jars did the same thing sometimes, when you reach for them on the shelf and wonder why they wanted to fall like that…

‘And there’s Truth with a capital T, that grown-ups put on their best clothes and sit around, with a cup or glass of something, and talk about... but without dropping their cup or glass or anything…’

Pooh had never sat around when this happened. That was the time for being with CR upstairs.

‘It’s difficult to follow what they say, so I watch their faces, Pooh..

‘There’s Nodding Their Heads Truth. There’s Smiling But Only a Bit and Not for Long Truth. There’s Eyes Open Wide Truth. There’s Being Very Still For a Time Truth. And there’s Nodding And Smiling With the Eyes Too And Remembering, Truth…There seem to be diff’rent kinds of Truth, Pooh…’

Pooh suddenly felt very five-to-fourish after so much about grown-ups and their complicated lives, so he and CR turned and walked back in silence.

Later after a Little Something, Pooh stood in front of the big mirror in CR’s nursery, and tried on all these Faces of Truth.. feeling, well maybe, and yes possibly, and wait until tomorrow, by turns.. and then, he felt really quite tired…

Christopher Robin picked him up lovingly.
'Silly old Bear...'
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A response from Alison Cassidy from Australia to the Pooh theme :

Pooh Bear and CR discuss Listening

‘Tell me about listening’ said Winnie the Pooh to CR one day
when they were sitting together in a thoughtful spot
and the sun was hummy.

‘There’s lots of different sorts of listening.’
CR explained. ‘It depends.’

‘On what? ’ said Pooh amiably.

‘On how you feel, I suppose.

For instance, there’s the ‘listening when you’re not’ sort of listening which you do when Rabbit is rabbiting on about something that doesn’t really matter.’

‘I know that sort’, said Pooh.

‘Then there’s the ‘half listening’ sort of listening,
when you sort of do and you sort of don’t.’

‘Like when Piglet’s telling you a very exciting story
and you can’t listen properly cos your tummy’s rumbling? ’


‘Or when Eeyore’s feeling particularly gloomy,
so you make ‘there there’ sort of noises instead of listening.’

‘The very same’.

‘What other sorts of listening are there? ’
Pooh asked eagerly.

‘Then there’s ‘real listening’
when you put aside everything else
and turn off your own mind completely.’

‘Like I’m doing now? ’ said Pooh

‘Like you’re doing now.’ said C R.

‘I like listening to you Christopher Robin’ said Pooh.

‘I like listening to you too, Pooh.'

Alison Cassidy
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 11, 2008 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mrs Wordsworth on daffodils

I love to see the daffodils,
they're just so very yellow.
In jugs upon the window-sills
they make me feel so mellow!

But when the daffs begin to niff
it gives my Will the willies,
so now I buy them market-fresh,
flown over from the Scillies.

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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Phoenix Museum, Arizona

A sightseeing phoenix a sign espied:
'This way to the Phoenix Museum';
A little homesick, went inside;
Looked for friends; but couldn't see 'em.

In hindsight, the title's
Just a little rash;
The Phoenix Museum
Is now a pile of ash...

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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 13, 2008 9:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Wasted Landing -- thoughts from an airport in disarray

In the hour of our departure O Lord

In our beginning is our end

To depart is to arrive yet not to arrive
at the same hour and place
in some other time zone
and in our departing is our arrival
and to arrive is to depart from where we have not been
and to depart is to arrive at where we will not go

into the departure hall from where we did not depart
into the arrival hall where we did not arrive
and the end of all our departures is our arrival
that we may arrive at where we did not go
and depart from where we have not been.

now and in the hour of our departure Lord

I Tiresias have foresuffered all
on this self-same divan, or tired banquette
in the departure hall from where we have not departed,
in the arrival hall where we have not arrived,
and all our arrivings are departures
and all our departures are arrivings
departing from where we have not been,
arriving at where we will not go

the sun shines bleakly through the window panes.
into the planes the trim staff come and go,
(they stay at Novotel Michelangelo),
laundered into skies we cannot breathe.
'All flights are cancelled';
'Sorry Sir, this ticket is not valid for this flight'.

I Icarus have suffered thus
in Greece, in Rhodes, on all connecting flights,
in Delphi where I was not warned,
in Cumae where I could not go.
Passport Control. Do Not Pass This Point.

Too hot the sun of Greece that day,
the sun I shall not see.
'Arrival Delayed'. 'Flight Cancelled'

A cold coming we had of it:
the baggage heavy, and the escalator steep,
the information scanty and the children fractious,
and the people. Oh the people.

Cans. Packets. Yesterday's papers from yesterday's travellers.
Sandwiches they have not eaten.
Tread softly for you tread on my icecream.

Now and in the hour of our departure Lord

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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Fri Apr 18, 2008 12:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Words of Consolation on a Wet Day in the Lake District

I dreamt I flew as ibis fly
o'er sand and palm and sunny Nile
when all at once, there caught my eye
a host of grinning crocodile.

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Peter Blumsom

Joined: 09 Mar 2007
Posts: 1167
Location: Wembley, London, UK

PostPosted: Tue Apr 22, 2008 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(Well I was smiling to my self as I scribbled it down. Of course you have to know the place to understand the joke.)


The morning lies low over Brent
And once more the Absolute
Looks down in horror.
'Is this my handiwork?
'I gave man infinite possibility
'And he has created this …this …
'Brent thing.
'Every morning, just after breakfast, my tribunes
'Bring me news of fresh wonders
'From every corner of the universe
'Both known and unknown
'Here a nova, there a quasar
'(although to Me of course all birth and death
'Is a fallacy amidst the Eternal New)
'But Brent …
'I sit and ponder Brent,
'Which in its own way is the greatest wonder of all.
'I can see no meaning to it
'But of late, it hath become a preoccupation
'With Me.
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Elizabeth Maulton

Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 35
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2008 5:44 pm    Post subject: Humour Reply with quote

Willesden Junction

O Willesden Junction, gracious queen, with
Twisting rails of silver sheen.
You,who offer sights and sounds we
Cannot match in Richmond fair:
Kind protectorate,
Let me swear......

All allegiance to your trains;
A thousand cars beneath your cranes.
Royal tunnels, brick on brick
To serve your carriages packed so thick
With strontium, acid, coal and more;
Everything we need to store
In nearby Harlesden,
Prince of darkness,
Brooding quietly in it's starkness.

But the jewel of jewels indeed,
Flows sweetly by through moor and meed.
Salve and benison of life banal:
Our chum the Grand Union Canal
Who steers our hopes and checks our fears;
Gives paths sublime to those whose tears
Fall gently onto muddy tracks
Because of previous sullied acts.

O Willesden, Willesden, Junction fair,
Silverlink is ever there to
Blithely bring us both together;
Laughter, shopping,none can sever.
Shining rails and wild birds' cry....
Happiness may none deny.
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Michael Shepherd

Joined: 07 Dec 2007
Posts: 1395
Location: London, UK

PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 12:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Goodbye Routemaster

The iconic (damn, I swore I’d
never use that word..)
red London bus
was designed by the active lively
for the active lively – those who
take a few chances with life,
look for a little excitement,
test their limits, enjoy
– the French have a phrase for it –
the little happinesses, sweetnesses or
good fortunes, it doesn’t
translate quite so well –
let’s say, exhilarating moments ?

viz. :

the back platform, a step
nearer the ground, is open;
a central vertical bar,
wound with a grip-fast plastic,
midway on the edge of the platform;
on the vertical edge of the rear bus-back,
a substantial holding bar
which never lets you down;
another horizontal bar
the other side
to steady you either getting on or off


you’ve just missed the bus as
it begins to pull away ?
Don’t worry – you’re young to middling,
the driver’s still to change from low gear as
he pulls away from the kerb and queue;
you check the platform’s clear;
a short run;
(god, he’s into second now already – must be West Indian…)
grab the upright bar with the right hand,
right foot on platform, then
left hand on vertical bar –and there --
a small but significant personal achievement,
a confirmation that life’s for the winning;
the breathing deeper, healthier;
quicker than the marathon,
some would say healthier;

and correspondingly,

you’re on the bus, you’d like to get off soon
but it’s quite a few yards, or chains, or furlong
to the next bus stop -- but eureka – the bus slows
towards a red traffic light or a traffic jam :
stand on the back of the platform (yes,
the designer thought of that too), or holding on the central bar
(this one requires a quick calculation of which
you choose according to agility)
and drop off with some grace,
hit the ground running…
another little good fortune, exhilaration
to liven up your day; even your fellow passengers
watching, feel the shared lift of spirits
at this touch of athleticism


this bus, though it can cope
with a young mother with a quickly
folded pram, infant now in left arm,
wasn’t designed for low-income single mothers
with twins, who like to shop at Harrods,
or for self-drive wheelchairs…
so in these more socially inclusive times
where well-stuffed infant-carriers no longer fold to nothing…
and with labour-intensive costs in mind,
have no benevolent conductor watching
all these minor athletic feats –
have fast-shut doors, make the seated driver supervise all this,
no conductor standing, climbing stairs,
taking your ticket while the driver – drives… alas,
it’s goodbye Routemaster…


maybe you’ll understand why, as
symbol of our more agile years,
we miss it… nostalgia on wheels…

[PS Thanks to Boris Johnson, this valedictory may be premature…crutches crossed, chaps…]

( PPS : you can buy a reconditioned one cheap !)

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