Guest poem submitted by Ramón Fallon:
(Poem #1544) 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 fater, "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.
Here's a poem by Lewis Carroll who is already well represented on your site , but I think this one is incredibly good. First of all it is really really catchy - in the musical sense even - it has the kind of lines that you find yourself unconsciously repeating, like you might whistle a tune. Also, it has plenty of fantasy in it, as one might expect from Carroll, but its real crowning achievement, is, in fact, its reality. Sure, as a poem, it entertains, it indulges, but behind it all it is dealing with a fundamental issue. Youth's attitude to Age. I find it to be highly accurate in this sense. Youth is the unrecoverable gift this life gives us, and this apparently trivial poem frames the situation perfectly. The youth is quite arrogant, and repeats himself each time with the subversive aim of reminding Father William how old he is. He's also been very observant about Father William's actions, which are indeed awe-inspiring, but his surprise is always in relation to the age of Father William. It is clear that the youth is more age-obsessed than the father. If anything Father William is portrayed as quite a happy person, despite his age, and there is the feeling the youth wants to dissolve that happiness with his insistence. In the end, I think, the father loses his exuberance at the unremitting reminders of his age, decides to dispatch the arrogant youth forthwith - as you might say. It's so great to have such masterly crafted set of words, with both great fun and profound meaning in them! Ramón.  [broken link] http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet_C.html#Carroll -- ed.