No one knows exactly what makes a poem funny. It might be puns, or wordplay, or unexpected rhymes that elevate plain old verse to genuinely comic stature. Then again, plenty of downright hilarious poems don't employ any
of these tricks. We all know how it feels, though, to be under the spell of a truly comic poem, and in The Nation's Favourite Comic Poems
, we get the chance to feel it again and again.
Editor Griff Rhys Jones does an excellent job of bridging centuries, including classics side- by-side with lesser known gems. Here you'll find some of your all-time favourites by Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, Edward Lear and Shakespeare, as well as Louis MacNeice's little- known but ingeniously lyrical "Bagpipe Music".
Did you know Keats wrote at least one comic poem? Are you familiar with the "Ning Nang Nong", or the "Akond of Swat"? Do you know of "The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy- Bo", or how the fish answered when asked, "O scaly, slippery, wet, swift, staring wights, / What is't you do? What life lead? eh, dull goggles? / How do you vary your vile days and nights? / How pass your Sundays? Are ya still but joggles / In ceaseless wash?" If you've ever tiptoed downstairs in the middle of the night for a taste of chocolate only to devour the entire cake, if you've ever had the urge to write:
TO SOMEONE WHO INSISTED I LOOK UP SOMEONE
I rang them up while touring Timbuctoo,
Those bosom chums to whom you're known as 'Who?'
then you'll find something to tickle your fancy here. --Martha Silano
All-time favourite funny poems selected by Griff Rhys Jones