Here are some old scraps of verse I’ve snipped from my home page. They belong here rather than there.

A conductor’s lot

with apologies to W. S. Gilbert

When a singer’s not engaged in ululation
Or contributing his vocals to a chord
He indulges in delightful conversation
Just to save his friends from ever getting bored

When a tenor’s tenor register’s not ringing
He cracks a joke or perpetrates a pun
Ah, when singers are not actually singing
A conductor’s lot is not a happy one

When disciplinary duty’s to be done, to be done
A conductor’s lot is not a happy one, happy one

When exasperated altos are awaiting
A soprano cue that’s not entirely there
And sectarian division’s escalating
It can drive the mildest maestro to despair

When the soloists start resting on their laurels
When the orchestra packs up before you’re done
When the basses exercise their baser morals
A conductor’s lot is not a happy one

When disciplinary duty’s to be done, to be done
A conductor’s lot is not a happy one, happy one


We square up in equal and opposite hordes
Then march to our doom on behalf of our lords

Pawns battle upward and never look back
Knights gad about cutting through to attack

Bishops adopt contradictory attitudes
Rooks set up strongholds to conquer new latitudes

Queens go first class with the trappings of fame
Kings back their champions to capture the game

One faction may triumph or both escape shame
But no man can take either credit or blame

Unmourned and no wiser we shuffle away
To expect resurrection when gods stoop to play

Stabat Mater

Berkeley took a stab at Matter—
Ran his mental blade right through it!
And was Substance hard to shatter?
No, said he, there’s nothing to it.


A poet called Andy McCann
Was inspired with a wonderful plan.
It was truly sublime
So he put it in rhyme:

O Vision afforded to man,
Are you only a flash in the pan?
If fleeting, my flashling,
I’ll call you my Aisling:

My dream is
to have a

(That one will only make sense to readers who have a passing acquaintance with Irish literature. Apologies to those who don’t; you can find out the meaning of Aisling here.)

To my fellow-motorists

When we’ve driven the last cyclist from his toe-hold on the street,
Let us not become complacent, for the job is not complete;
There’s another class of person lining up for our attention
And he bends and breaks the law in every way that you could mention:
The pedestrian. His blind insouciance is past endurance
When it’s WE who pay the taxes, pass the tests and buy insurance!
We are gentle, kind, forgiving, but he does his best to thwart us
As the heart-arresting jaywalker or traffic-jamming tortoise . . .
We invented good behaviour, he’s determined to destroy it!
And don’t tell me to stop ranting, it’s my right! And I enjoy it!

4 Responses to “Pomes”

  1. samwell Says:

    not one limerick! not even a rimickle? i like the chess one but the berkeley one is the most catchy.

  2. recumbentman Says:

    Why thank you. The limericks are mostly at http://www.oedilf.com

    The chess one has been revised several times every year since I wrote it over ten years ago, though my favourite line hasn’t changed at all: Bishops adopt contradictory attitudes. Each see has two bishops, R C and C of I; their paths may cross, but each one’s area of influence is strictly delimited. One may only go where the other may not.

  3. samwell Says:

    which brings us back to religion…

  4. recumbentman Says:

    I incline to the view that religion is a bad idea overall. As Wittgenstein said, “All philosophy can do is destroy idols. – And that means, not making any new ones – in the ‘absence of an idol’.”

    Read my take on Wittgenstein here:

    It was written by me, with contributions from the other named researchers.

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