Nonsense verse

Nonsense verse is a form of poetry, normally composed for humorous effect, which is paradoxical, silly, witty, whimsical or just plain strange. However not all humorous verse is nonsense. For instance a poem like

Algy saw the bear.
The bear saw Algy.
The bear was bulgy.
The bulge was Algy.

is humorous but not nonsense. Whereas

The elephant is a bonnie bird.
It flits from bough to bough.
It makes its nest in a rhubarb tree
And whistles like a cow.

is classic nonsense.

As is

One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead men got up to fight.
Back-to-back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
A paralyzed donkey walking by,
kicked a blind man in the eye,
Sent him through a rubber wall,
into a dry ditch and drowned them all.

There is a long tradition of nonsense verse in English, Many limericks for instance. Among the poets noted for nonsense verse are Edward Lear, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash and Spike Milligan.

copyright 2004