The Oxford Book of Comic Verse (Oxford Books of Verse)

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9780192142078: The Oxford Book of Comic Verse (Oxford Books of Verse)

"Comic verse," writes editor John Gross, "is verse that is designed to amuse--and perhaps that is as far as any attempt at a definition ought to go." In The Oxford Book of Comic Verse, Gross has combed the annals of literature in English from the middle ages to the present, gathering poems that provoke laughter, smiles, and even reflections on the human condition--but always poems that amuse.
From limericks to social satire, The Oxford Book of Comic Verse offers a remarkable collection of outstanding light poetry. Gross has brought together the finest writers in the history of the English language--from Chaucer and Skelton to Shakespeare and Swift, Lord Byron to Robert Browning, Emily Dickinson to John Updike--offering delightful examples of their comic verse. Many of these lines dance with whimsy, such as John Skelton's Colin Clout ("For though my rhyme be ragged,/ Tattered and jagged,/ Rudely rain-beaten,/ Rusty and moth-eaten,/ If ye take well therewith,/ It hath in it some pith"); others float heavier thoughts on light rhymes--as in Matthew Prior's succinct Human Life ("What trifling coil do we poor mortals keep;/ Wake, eat, and drink, evacuate and sleep."). The range of writers who have composed comic verse is astonishing, as is the delight of the poems themselves. Here we read T.S. Eliot mocking himself ("How unpleasant to meet Mr. Eliot!/ With his features of clerical cut"); poet and Soviet historian Robert Conquest, mingling his two professions in a limerick ("There was a great Marxist called Lenin/ Who did two or three million men in/ --That's a lot to have done in/ --But where he did one in/ That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in"); and Wendy Cope commenting on her disillusionment with poets ("I used to think all poets were Byronic./ They're mostly wicked as ginless tonic/ And wild as pension plans"). And along the way, we are treated to witty song lyrics as well, from First World War soldiers' tunes, to Irving Berlin, to Cole Porter, to Lorenz Hart ("When love congeals/It soon reveals/ the faint aroma of performing seals/The double-crossing of a pair of heels/I wish I were in love again!").
Whether it comes from anonymous popular culture or the icons of the literary canon, comic verse has been a source of pleasure and diversion through the ages--a combination of wit, verbal artistry, and even serious contemplation. This collection, compiled by one of our finest critics and anthologists, brings this tradition into the hands of today's readers, offering hours of delight.

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About the Author:


About the Editor:
John Gross is the theater critic for the London Sunday Times. A former book critic for The New York Times, he is the author and editor of many books, including The Oxford Book of Essays.

Review:

Those Two Boys by Franklin Pierce Adams
The Three-toed Sloth by Karen Fleur Adcock
R-e-m-o-r-s-e by George Ade
Animula Vagula Blandula by Conrad Aiken
Autobiographical Fragment by Kingsley Amis
Mightier Than The Pen by Kingsley Amis
Coming Right Up by Archie Randolph Ammons
Their Sex Life by Archie Randolph Ammons
On His Own Career by Clement Richard Attlee
The Aesthetic Point Of View by Wystan Hugh Auden
Give Me A Doctor Partridge-plump by Wystan Hugh Auden
The Love Feast by Wystan Hugh Auden
Passenger Shanty by Wystan Hugh Auden
Statesmen by Wystan Hugh Auden
The American's Apostrophe To Boz, Sels. by William Edmonstoune Aytoun
The Royal Banquet by William Edmonstoune Aytoun
A Description Of London by John Banks
The Jackdaw Of Rheims by Richard Harris Barham
Lines Left At Mr. Theodore Hook's House In June, 1834 by Richard Harris Barham
I Had A Duck-billed Platypus When I Was Up At Trinity by Patrick Barrington
Take Me In Your Arms, Miss Moneypenny-wilson by Patrick Barrington
It's A Great Big Shame by Edgar Bateman
The Carpenter's Complaint by Edward Baugh
Out by Thomas Haynes Bayly
Folk Song by Bruce Victor Beaver
Addition To Kipling's The Dead King (edward Vii), 1910 by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
After Hilaire Belloc (1) by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
Chorus Of A Song That Might Have Been Written By...chevalier by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
In A Copy Of More's (or Shaw's Or Well's Or Plato's) Utopia by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
On The Imprint Of The First English Edition ... by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
A Red Sky At Night %is A Shepherd's Delight by Henry Maximilian Beerbohm
Senilio Passes, Singing by Martin Bell
Henry King, Who Chewed Bits Of String ... by Hilaire Belloc
Imitation by Hilaire Belloc
Is There Any Reward? by Hilaire Belloc
Lord Heygate Had A Troubled Face by Hilaire Belloc
Obiter Dicta by Hilaire Belloc
On Lady Poltagrue: A Public Peril by Hilaire Belloc
On Mundane Acquaintances; Epigram by Hilaire Belloc
The Pacifist; Epigram by Hilaire Belloc
The World's A Stage. The Trifling Entrance Fee by Hilaire Belloc
Colonisation In Reverse by Simone Louise Bennett
Bloomsbury Snapshot by Connie Bensley
One's Correspondence by Connie Bensley
Limerick by Gerard Benson
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Clerihew by Edmund Clerihew Bentley
Cecil B. De Mille by Nicholas Bentley
The Londonderry Air by Nicholas Bentley
On Lady A - by Nicholas Bentley
A Couple Of Swells by Irving Berlin
American Lights, Seen From Off Abroad by John Berryman
The Ballad Of George R. Sims by John Betjeman
A Hike On The Downs by John Betjeman
Hunter Trials by John Betjeman
Longfellow's Visit To Venice by John Betjeman
The Old Land Dog by John Betjeman
Reproof Deserved, Or After The Lecture by John Betjeman
Air by Isaac Bickerstaffe
An Expostulation by Isaac Bickerstaffe
The Adventures Of Id by Morris Gilbert Bishop
My Friend The Cuckold by Morris Gilbert Bishop
An Epitaph by William Blake
Imitation Of Pope: A Compliment To The Ladies by William Blake
Sonnet: In Time Of Revolt by Rupert Brooke
Oaths by Thomas (tom) Brown
And Were I Not, As A Man May Say, Cautious by Robert Browning
Dialogue Between Father And Daughter by Robert Browning
Rhyme For A Child Viewing A Naked Venus In A Painting by Robert Browning
Teaching German Literature by Vincent Buckley
To Archbishop Lang (written At Time Of The Abdication, 1936) by Gerald Bullett
Cinq Ans Apres by Frank Gelett Burgess
Leave-taking by Frank Gelett Burgess
The Purple Cow by Frank Gelett Burgess
Trapping Fairies by Frank Gelett Burgess
For The Common Market by Michael Burn
The Deil's Awa Wi' Th' Exciseman by Robert Burns
Holy Willie's Prayer by Robert Burns
Poor Merry-andrew, In The Neuk by Robert Burns
Boston by Samuel C. Bushnell
The Presbyterian Knight [or, The Religion Of Hudibras] by Samuel (1612-1680) Butler
Massenet by Anthony Butts
Careless Content by John Byrom
14. by George Gordon Byron
15. by George Gordon Byron
16. by George Gordon Byron
17. by George Gordon Byron
18. by George Gordon Byron
19. by George Gordon Byron
20. by George Gordon Byron
21. by George Gordon Byron
218. by George Gordon Byron
219. by George Gordon Byron
220. by George Gordon Byron
90. by George Gordon Byron
91. by George Gordon Byron
92. by George Gordon Byron
93. by George Gordon Byron
94. by George Gordon Byron
96. by George Gordon Byron
Epistle From Mr. Murray To Dr. Polidori by George Gordon Byron
Lines To Mr. Hodgson, Written On Board The Lisbon Packet by George Gordon Byron
A,b,c by Charles Stuart Calverley
Ballad by Charles Stuart Calverley
Flight by Charles Stuart Calverley
In The Gloaming by Charles Stuart Calverley
On Some South African Novelists by Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell
On The Same (on Some South African Novelists) by Ignatius Royston Dunnachie Campbell
The Friend Of Humanity And The Knife-grinder by George Canning
A Lilliputian Ode On Their Majesties' Accession by Henry (1687-1743) Carey
Wit Was A Strange Unlucky Child by James Cawthorn
The Monk by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Summoner And The Pardoner by Geoffrey Chaucer
The Aristocrat by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
A Ballade Of Suicide by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Fat White Woman Speaks by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
On Reading 'god' by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
The Song Against Grocers by Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Mr. Slimmer's Funeral Verses ...: Willie by Charles Heber Clark
Polly Perkins by Harry (1832-1872) Clifton
Spectator Ab Extra by Arthur Hugh Clough
Mutual Problem by William Cole
If by Edward James Mortimer Collins
Semele To Jupiter by William Congreve
Lord Came Home by Cyril Vernon Connolly
M Is For Marx by Cyril Vernon Connolly
On Geoffrey Grigson by Cyril Vernon Connolly
On Himself by Cyril Vernon Connolly
Percy, My Pillon-proud by Cyril Vernon Connolly
Something Is Going To Go, Baby by Cyril Vernon Connolly
To Osbert Sitwell by Cyril Vernon Connolly
She Was One Of The Early Birds by T. W. Connor
Bagpipes At The Biltmore by George Robert Acworth Conquest
Progress by George Robert Acworth Conquest
Engineers' Corner by Wendy Cope
Exchange Of Letters by Wendy Cope
Lonely Heatfrs by Wendy Cope
Serious Concerns by Wendy Cope
Triolet by Wendy Cope
Two Cures For Love by Wendy Cope
The Distracted Puritan by Richard Corbet
But, To Leave Fooling, I Assure Ye by Charles Cotton
A Maid Compelled by Charles Cotton
Our Country Air Was, In Plain Dealing by Charles Cotton
Irish Song (rosie O'grady) by Noel Coward
The Stately Homes Of England by Noel Coward
1x1 (one Times One): 11 by Edward Estlin Cummings
50 Poems: 8 by Edward Estlin Cummings
No Thanks: 16 by Edward Estlin Cummings
On Alderman W ---: The History Of His Life by John Cunningham
Buttered Pippin-pies by John (1565-1618) Davies
Francus by John (1569-1626) Davies
Weapons Training by Bruce Dawe
And A Shark That Once Began by Clarence Day
Brooding Beast by Clarence Day
In Mesozoic Days A War by Clarence Day
In Those Old Days They Tell Us Of by Clarence Day
On Lido's Shore by Clarence Day
Once, They Say, A Bat-like Brute by Clarence Day
The Real Objection To The Nude by Clarence Day
Scents, Sounds And Views by Clarence Day
Yesterday Explorers Found by Clarence Day
Dear Sir by Walter John De La Mare
Moonshine by Walter John De La Mare
Pooh! by Walter John De La Mare
The Shubble by Walter John De La Mare
Sacred And Profane Love, Or, There's Nothing New by Peter De Vries
Alternative Endings To An Unwritten Ballad by Paul Dehn
From Potted Swan (a Condensed Version Of Shaakespeare) by Paul Dehn
I'm Nobody! Who Are You by Emily Dickinson
Abeecdary by Thomas M. Disch
Zewhyexary by Thomas M. Disch
Father William [questioned], Fr. Alice In Wonderland by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Humpty Dumpty Recitation [or, Song] by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
The Hunting Of The Snark: Fit 2. The Bellman's Speech by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
The Long Tale by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
'tis The Voice Of The Lobster; I Heard Him Declare by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
To An Undiscerning Critic by Arthur Conan Doyle
Tyrannic Love, Or The Royal Martyr: Epilogue by John Dryden
The [crown] Prince Of Dullness [names His Heir] by John Dryden
Vers Nonsensique: 3 by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier
Vers Nonsensique: 4 by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier
Vers Nonsensique: 5 by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier
Vers Nonsensiques: 1 by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier
Vers Nonsensiques: 2 by George Louis Palmella Busson Du Maurier
Honeymoon Postcard by Paul Durcan
Sister Agnes Writes To Her Beloved Mother by Paul Durcan
Tullynoe: Tete-a-tete In The Parish Priest's Parlour by Paul Durcan
Ballad Of The Oedipus Complex by Lawrence Durrell
Bustopher Jones: The Cat About Town by Thomas Stearns Eliot
Lines For Cuscuscaraway And Mirza Murad Ali Beg by Thomas Stearns Eliot
Just A Smack At Auden by William Empson
The Evil Days by Dennis Joseph Enright
Paradise Illustrated: 22 by Dennis Joseph Enright
Paradise Illustrated: 3 by Dennis Joseph Enright
Paradise Illustrated: 32 by Dennis Joseph Enright
Posterity by Dennis Joseph Enright
The Black Box by Gavin Ewart
The Great Women Composers by Gavin Ewart
'it's Hard To Dislike Ewart' by Gavin Ewart
One For The Anthologies by Gavin Ewart
The Owl Writes A Detective Story by Gavin Ewart
Semantic Limerick According To Dr. Johnson's Dictionary by Gavin Ewart
Semantic Limerick According To The Shorted Oxford Dictionary by Gavin Ewart
To The Virgins, To Make The Most Of Time by Gavin Ewart
The Chosen People by William Norman Ewer
Family by Nissim Ezekiel
Goodbye Party For Miss Pushpa T.s. by Nissim Ezekiel
Song To Be Shouted Out by Nissim Ezekiel
When The Female Railway Clerk by Nissim Ezekiel
Enigma by Catherine Maria Fanshawe
You Will Be Hearing From Us Shortly by Ursala Fanthorpe
Privy-love For My Landlady by George Farewell
Quaere by George Farewell
Trifles by George Farquhar
God, A Poem by James Fenton
Lower East Side: The George Bernstein Story by Edward Field
A Fine Romance by Dorothy Fields
Have Some Madeira, M'dear? by Michael Flanders
An Appeal To Cats In The Business Of Love by Thomas Flatman
The Mountains Of Mourne by Percy French
The Queen's After-dinner Speech by Percy French
King Arthur's Court by John Hookham Frere
Whistlecraft by John Hookham Frere
An Answer by Robert Frost
Clear And Colder by Robert Frost
Lucretius Versus The Lake Poets by Robert Frost
The Objection To Being Stepped On by Robert Frost
Born Too Soon by John Fuller
The Red Light District Nurse by John Fuller
Coptic Socks by Roy Fuller
Did Ye See Me? by Robert Garioch
A Fair Cop by Robert Garioch
I Was Fair Beat by Robert Garioch
Fables: 1st Ser. 40. The Two Monkeys by John Gay
Lesser Epistles: To A Young Lady With Some Lampreys by John Gay
Molly Mog, Or The Fair Maid Of The Inn by John Gay
The Babbitt And The Bromide by Ira Gershwin
Captain Reece Of The Mantlepiece by William Schwenck Gilbert
Ferdinando And Elvira, Or The Gentle Pieman by William Schwenck Gilbert
Nightmare, Fr. Iolanthe by William Schwenck Gilbert
There Lived A King by William Schwenck Gilbert
A Thought by William Schwenck Gilbert
The Double Transformation by Oliver Goldsmith
Sir Joshua Reynolds by Oliver Goldsmith
From Number Nine, Penwiper Mews by Edward Gorey
From The Bathing Machine Came A Din by Edward Gorey
Some Harvard Men, Stalwart And Hairy by Edward Gorey
To His Club-footed Child Said Lord Stipple by Edward Gorey
Grandpapa by Harry Graham
L'enfant Glace by Harry Graham
Opportunity by Harry Graham
Waste by Harry Graham
Ein Complaint by Virginia Graham
1805 by Robert Ranke Graves
Beauty In Trouble by Robert Ranke Graves
Epitaph On An Unfortunate Artist by Robert Ranke Graves
A Grotesque: 1 by Robert Ranke Graves
Twins by Robert Ranke Graves
The Weather Of Olumpus by Robert Ranke Graves
Ode On The Death Of A Favourite Cat, Drowned In A Tub by Thomas Gray
Sometimes I Dress, With Women Sit by Matthew Green
Stately As A Galleon by Joyce Grenfell
Everything In Its Place by Arthur Guiterman
Woolworth's by Donald Hall
Limerick by Gerry Hamill
Don's Holiday by George Rostrevor Hamilton
To A Pessimist by George Rostrevor Hamilton
Liddell And Scott, On The Completion Of Their Lexicon by Thomas Hardy
Alfred De Musset by Maurice Evan Hare
Determinism by Maurice Evan Hare
Burlington Bertie From Bow by William Hargreaves
I Wish I Were In Love Again by Lorenz Milton Hart
Plain Language From Truthful James by Francis Bret Harte
Nomenclaturik by Harry Hearson
Footnote To Belloc's 'tarantella' by John Heath-stubbs
One by John Heath-stubbs
Simcox by John Heath-stubbs
From The Grove Press by Anthony Hecht
Goliardic Song by Anthony Hecht
The Smile Of The Goat by Oliver Brook Herford
The Smile Of The Walrus

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