You are old Father William

English Poems Index

You are old Father William :

‘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 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 down stairs.’

By Lewis Carroll

About The Poet :

Lewis Carroll's real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. He was born in 1832 in Cheshire - England and educated at Rugby College and Christ Church - Oxford. In 1855 he became a lecturer in mathematics at his college. But he enjoyed writing poetry. He became famous for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1866) and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871). He was an artist too and a photographer. he published much humorous poetry which has been enjoyed by children for many decades. He died in 1898.

Words to Know :

Airs : affected manners or way of behaving to impress others

Eel : a fish that has a long, thin body, resembling a snake

Incessantly : continuing for a long time without a break

Shilling : a former British coin, equal to one twentieth of a pound

Suet : hard white sheep fat, used in cooking

Supple : capable of bending, stretching, and moving with ease

Uncommonly : to a degree that is unusual or rare, exceptionally

English Poems Index

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