Lewis Carroll

(27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898 / Cheshire)

You Are Old Father William

Poem by Lewis Carroll

"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 mange 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 every;
Yet you balanced an eel on the tend 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.

Comments about You Are Old Father William by Lewis Carroll

  • john p barach (9/30/2019 10:35:00 AM)

    it's wondrously balanced on the edge of reality, but never falls off either side! i love it(Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • Ellen LaPierre (9/10/2019 8:18:00 AM)

    the way I heard it was: You are old, Father William, and your teeth are beginning to freeze. Your favorite daughter has wheels in her head and the chickens are pecking your knees.(Report)Reply

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  • Aaron MarchantAaron Marchant (10/9/2018 2:35:00 PM)

    The poem of which this is a parody is 'The Old Man's Comforts and How He Gained Them'
    by Robert Southey. Carroll's parody version is recited in his 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' (1865)(Report)Reply

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  • Lose Hunter (5/2/2018 10:58:00 AM)

    Is this a parody of a poem by Wordsworth?(Report)Reply

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  • billp (12/21/2017 4:49:00 AM)

    pity about the spelling mistakes(Report)Reply

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  • Dia Ali (6/19/2016 3:38:00 PM)

    I love this poem, it is written very cleverly and it is very funny.(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    3 person did not like.
  • Godfrey MorrisGodfrey Morris (3/12/2015 7:27:00 PM)

    Beautiful poem though I was expecting a better ending. Some wise message perhaps. Love it though.(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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  • Ramesh T ARamesh T A (3/12/2015 2:01:00 PM)

    Lewis Carroll noted for his novel, Alice in the Wonderland meant for children mostly show his valour as comic story writer in this poem also by a small conversation between father and son!(Report)Reply

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  • John Richter (3/12/2015 12:34:00 PM)

    Feisty old buggar! I'd say Mr. Carroll was in a rather whimsical mood when he wrote this. I'm sure it was written to get some chuckles from children... I particularly enjoyed how the old man came to strengthen his jaw. If this were true then I should be able to crack walnuts with my own!(Report)Reply

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  • Amanda Singleton (10/2/2006 10:08:00 AM)

    This poem is so cute! I love it!(Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: father, strength, son, hair, fear

Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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