Harry Graham (poet)

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Jocelyn Henry Clive "Harry" Graham (23 December 187430 October 1936) was an English writer. He was a successful journalist and later, after distinguished military service, a leading lyricist for operettas and musical comedies. He is now best remembered as a writer of humorous verse in the tradition of grotesquerie and black humour, exemplified by the verses of W. S. Gilbert and Hilaire Belloc, in his "Ruthless Rhymes."


Ruthless Rhymes[edit]


Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;
Now, although the room grows chilly,
I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.


When Grandmamma fell off the boat,
And couldn’t swim, and wouldn’t float,
Maria just sat by and smiled -
I almost could have slapped the child!


Weep not for little Leonie,
Abducted by a French Marquis!
Though loss of honour was a wrench,
Just think how it's improved her French.

Calculating Clara[edit]

O'er the rugged mountain's brow
Clara threw the twins she nursed,
And remarked, "I wonder now
Which will reach the bottom first?"


That morning, when my wife eloped
With James, our chauffeur, how I moped!
What tragedies in life there are!
I'm dashed if I can start the car.

L'Enfant Glacé[edit]

When Baby's cries grew hard to bear
I popped him in the Frigidaire.
I never would have done so if
I'd known that he'd be frozen stiff.
My wife said: 'George, I'm so unhappé!
Our darling's now completely frappé!


Uncle, whose inventive brains
kept evolving aeroplanes,
fell from an enormous height
upon my garden lawn last night.
Flying is a fatal sport,
uncle wrecked the tennis court.


"There's been an accident!" they said,
"Your servant's cut in half; he's dead."
"Indeed!" said Mr Jones, "and please
Give me the half that's got my keys."

Other verse[edit]

A Macaronic Poem[edit]

Kaiser Wilhelm II, visiting Brussels, spoke at length with Baron de Haulleville, Director of the Congo Museum, in French, German and English. Harry Graham imagined their conversation.

  • "Guten Morgen, mon ami!
    Heute ist es schönes Wetter!
    Charmé de vous voir ici!
    Never saw you looking better!"
    • Lines 1-4
  • "Ich muss cherchez mon hôtel.
    What a charming Schwätzerei, sir!
    Lebe wohl! Adieu! Farewell!
    Vive le Congo! Hoch der Kaiser!"
    • Lines 13-16

Poetical economy[edit]

  • What hours I spent of precious time,
    What pints of ink I used to waste,
    Attempting to secure a rhyme
    To suit the public taste,
    Until I found a simple plan
    Which makes the lamest lyric scan!

    When I’ve a syllable de trop,
    I cut it off, without apol.:
    This verbal sacrifice, I know,
    May irritate the schol.;
    But all must praise my dev’lish cunn.
    Who realise that Time is Mon.

    • Lines 1-12

External links[edit]

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