Chacun À Son Berlitz

Chacun À Son Berlitz

French is easy.
 At speaking French I am the champ of the Champs-Élysée,
 And since I can speak Parisian without a flaw,
 I will tell you why the crows, or les corbeaux, always win their
 battle against the scarecrows: it's on account of their
 esprit de caw.

Ogden Nash


The Crocodile

A poem from Roald Dahl’s Dirty Beasts with an illustration by Quentin Blake.  Taken from The Roald Dahl Treasury, a handsome collection of pieces written by Dahl and published by Jonathan Cape.

Blakecroc 1

No animal is half so vile
As Crocky-Wock the crocodile.
On Saturdays he likes to crunch
Six juicy children for his lunch,
And he especially enjoys
Just three of each, three girls, three boys.
He smears the boys (to make them hoy)
With mustard from the mustard pot.
But mustard doesn’t go with girls,
It tastes all wrong with plaits and curls.
With them, what goes extremely well
Is butterscotch and caramel.
It’s such a super marvellous treat
When boys are hot and girls are sweet.
At least that’s Crocky’s point of view.
He ought to know. He’s had a few.
That’s all for now. It’s time for bed.
Lie down and rest your sleepy head…
Ssh! Listen! What is that I hear
Gallumphing softly up the stair?
Go lock the door and fetch my gun!
Go on, child, hurry! Quickly, run!
No, stop! Stand back! He’s coming in!
Oh, look, that greasy greenish skin!
The shining teeth, the greedy smile!


Most erotic poem in the English language?

Being a sunny St Patrick’s Day here in Montmorillon I thought that this poem by John Donne and first published in 1654 might lift the spirits (sic).

To His Mistress Going to Bed

Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labour, I in labour lie.
The foe oft-times having the foe in sight,
Is tir’d with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s Zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear,
That th’eyes of busy fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime,
Tells me from you, that now it is bed time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be, and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals,
As when from flowery meads th’hill’s shadow steals.
Off with that wiry Coronet and shew
The hairy Diadem which on you doth grow:
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
In this love’s hallow’d temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven’s Angels used to be
Received by men; Thou Angel bringst with thee
A heaven like Mahomet’s Paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know,
By this these Angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
Licence my roving hands, and let them go,
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man mann’d,
My Mine of precious stones, My Empirie,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter in these bonds, is to be free;
Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee,
As souls unbodied, bodies uncloth’d must be,
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atlanta’s balls, cast in men’s views,
That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a Gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings made
For lay-men, are all women thus array’d;
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see reveal’d. Then since that I may know;
As liberally, as to a Midwife, shew
Thy self: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
There is no penance due to innocence.
To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What needst thou have more covering than a man.


The Two Mice by James Reeves

Two Mice

There met two mice at Scarborough
     Beside the rushing sea,
The one from Market Harborough
     The other from Dundee.

They shook their feet, they clapped their hands,
     And twirled their tales about;
They danced all day upon the sands
     Until the stars peeped out.

‘I’m much fatigued,’ the one mouse sighed,
     ‘And ready for my tea.’
‘Come hame awa’.’ the other cried,
     ‘And tak’ a crumb wi’ me.’

They slept awhile, and then next day
     Across the moors they went;
But sad to say, they lost their way
     And came to Stoke-on-Trent.

And there it soon began to rain,
     At which they cried full sore,
‘If ever we get home again,
     We’ll not go dancing more.’


The Cats of Kilkenny

The Cats

Another poem from the little book Your Animal Poems, this one is anonymous, with a drawing by Quentin Blake.

There were once two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought that was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit,
They scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats, there weren’t any.


The Rhinoceros by Ogden Nash

Another poem from Your Animal Poems with a drawing by Quentin Blake.


The Rhino is a homely beast,
For human eyes he’s not a feast,
But you and I will never know
Why Nature chose to make him so.
Farewell, farewell, you old rhinoceros,
I’ll stare at something less prepoceros.


The Viper by Hilaire Belloc

Another poem taken from Your Animal Poems with a drawing by Quentin Blake.


Yet another great truth I record in my verse,
That some vipers are venemous and some the reverse;
   A fact you may prove if you try,
By procuring two vipers and letting them bite;
With the first you are only the worse for a fright,
   But after the second you die.



Another poem from Your Animal Poems with a picture by Quentin Blake.


I think mice
Are rather nice.

   Their tails are long,
   Their faces small,
   They haven’t any
   Chins at all.
   Their ears are pink,
   Their teeth are white,
   They run about
   The house at night.
   They nibble things
   They shouldn’t touch,
   And no one seems
   To like them much.

But I think mice
Are nice.



Cat a poem by Eleanor Farjeon

Atter her, atter her,
Sleeky flatterer,
Spitfire chatterer,
Scatter her, scatter her
      Off her mat!
      Treat her rough!
Git her, git her
Whiskery spitter!
Catch her, catch her,
Green-eyed scratcher!
      Don’t miss her!
Run till you’re dithery,
      Pfitts! Pfitts!
      How she spits!
      Spitch! Spatch!
      Can’t she scratch!
Scritching the bark
Of the sycamore-tree,
She’s reached her ark
And’s hissing at me.
      Pfitts! Pfitts!
      Wuff! Wuff!



Yet Gentle Will the Griffin be

Many years ago I edited a small book of poetry entitled Your Animal Poems. At the time my then wife was studying at the Royal College of Art and we had become friendly with Quentin Blake who was teaching illustration at the college. Quentin agreed to illustrate the book and I thought that in the coming days I would post some of the poems together with the accompanying illustrations in the hope that you might enjoy them.


Yet Gentle Will the Griffin be
(What Grandpa Told the Children)

The moon? It is a griffin’s egg,
Hatching tomorrow night.
And how the little boys will watch
With shouting and delight
To see him break the shell and stretch
And creep across the sky.
The boys will laugh. The little girls,
I fear, may hide and cry.
Yet gentle will the griffin be,
Most decorous and fat,
And walk up to the Milky Way
And lap it like a cat.