Tuesday, May 8, 2007

There Was a Young Lady From Niger by William Cosmo Monkhouse

There Was a Young Lady From Niger

There was a young lady from Niger,
Who smiled as she rode on a tiger.
They came back from the ride
With the lady inside,
And the smile on the face of the tiger.
--William Cosmo Monkhouse

I like limericks. Not so much Lear's nonsense rhymes, but limericks that are really composed so that the last line really completes the story and gives you a little laugh. The one I have posted here is often listed as "Anonymous" which I think, in most cases, is just shorthand for "I was too lazy to figure out who the real author is, so I'll pretend like nobody wrote it." I found a site that attributed it to William Cosmo Monkhouse, and it certainly fit with the other limericks they had under his name. I read some of his other poetry too, and found that I really liked it. It's often melancholy, but it's obvious from his religious poems that he truly believed in Christ. You'll probably see more from him here in time.


  1. I went to the oldpoetry site you linked to and found a Monkhouse poem called, "The Christ on the Hill." I really liked the imagery of these lines, the shapes of the healing scars on the body of Christ

    ". . . And there was Michael. On his back
    He bore a helpless man.

    "He lives, he lives," he wildly cried;
    "His wounds are dripping still;"
    And surely, red from hand and side
    There ran a tiny rill.

    They brought Him in and laid Him down,
    Upon the warm hearthstone;
    It was the Christ, but not of wood,
    But made of flesh and bone.

    They washed His wounds, and at their touch
    They turned to purple scars,
    Like a young moon upon the breast,
    On hands and feet like stars."

    I know this type of poetry is saccharin and simple, but I still enjoy reading it: the story flowing along, some lovely images. Mom

  2. I think that's part of what I liked -- he puts into at least adequate poetry (not like some of the really bad poetry that gets read at church) the simple truths that we depend on. I liked his Judas poem -- for some reason called "Robert Buchanan" -- because after Judas's soul wanders the world looking for a place to put his body, he finds the Bridegroom who welcomes him in even though the other guests just want him to go away again.

    So yes, the symbolism is fairly obvious, but that doesn't stop them from being powerful symbols. It got me wondering however, why I like this, and despise books by Max Lucado which are theoretically doing the same thing. Maybe because Max Lucado's books are too simplified, and I feel like saying, "It's not that easy!" Whereas in Monkhouse's view, it's hard, but ultimately worth it.


  3. http://www.physics.harvard.edu/ academics/undergrad/limericks.html
    Mike Stay