Can you recite a poem by heart

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Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Ratatouille » March 20th, 2017, 7:54 pm

Some of you may know that R4 has been broadcasting Spring poems all day.

They started with WW's Daffodils when Mr Rats turned off the radio and we both recited it by heart. It is something we did from childhood.

He can recite reams of Homer and other latin poets not to mention Chaucer in the original version.

I am not so educated but I can do such poets as Wordsworth , YB Yates etc and (lord help me) Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Neither my daughter who got an A at A level can do this except for Shakespere and Chaucer. I am sure our GCs can't.

I am not sure this is a good thing or is it just that everyone is moving on? If so maybe something is being lost.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby OneMoreCheekyOne » March 20th, 2017, 8:46 pm

Honestly? The only one I could recite by heart is Stop all the clocks.

I can recite the odd line or two from a handful of others but that's it :oops:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby uschi » March 20th, 2017, 9:03 pm

I really struggle with poems, but my party trick is the Prologue to Chaucer's Canterbury tale. We had it in our Middle English course and I kept at it over the years. :rolleyes: :lol: :lol: :lol:
Geeky or what?
I can also do parts of Shelley's "Cloud" and Mörike's "Septembermorgen".

I am still struggling with a few others.
Last edited by uschi on March 20th, 2017, 10:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby mum-at-the-oven » March 20th, 2017, 10:23 pm

If - by Rudyard Kipling

Other than that only lines here and there - I may well recognise the origins of some but they are self taught because we didn't do a lot of poetry at school (and certainly not "If")

Uschi - I am in awe...
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby earthmaiden » March 20th, 2017, 10:43 pm

Abou Ben Adhem (may his tribe increase!)
Awoke one night from a deep dream of peace,
And saw, within the moonlight in his room,
Making it rich, and like a lily in bloom,
An angel writing in a book of gold:—
Exceeding peace had made Ben Adhem bold,
And to the presence in the room he said,
"What writest thou?"—The vision raised its head,...........

we regularly had to learn poems like that at school for prep and recite them the next day. The teacher would pick people randomly to stand up and prove they had learned them :evil: . I hated it ... there was one occasion when I hadn't learned the poem and propped the book up on my chair and read it - and amazingly wasn't caught! I do think it is good discipline to be made to learn things and remember them but frankly, it didn't make me like poetry and I have never had much reason to recite it since. I studied it in a more advanced way as part of the OU Humanities module but it still didn't grab me (Homer did though!). I am actually much more concerned at the loss of the memory of traditional songs, things we sang at school such as 'Come Lasses and Lads' and 'Heigh Ho Come to The Fair', 'The Fishermen of England' etc. Some of the words are social history lessons in themselves. By the time my daughter (now in her 40's) was at school, those songs had almost gone and they sang 'Morningtown Ride'. I wonder if they even have communal singing now and if so, I wonder what they sing.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Catherine » March 20th, 2017, 11:47 pm

Absolutely and can also recite a lot of Shakespeare......I did English Literature at Uni, but I adore poetry. I believe that if you learn it by heart then you get a much better understanding of it.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby StokeySue » March 21st, 2017, 12:27 am

More Shakespeare speeches but a few poems, probably most of a Child's Garden of Verse, if reminded of the titles, all the verses from Lewis Carroll's Alice, all the Christopher Robin hums; some of those have been set to music and I suspect I can remember any poem set to music I have ever sung, and lots of lyrics too.

I do know some aimed at adults too, I just need reminding of which!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Zosherooney » March 21st, 2017, 6:39 am

Twas brillig and the slivy toves did gire and gimble in the wabe, all mimsey were the borogroves and the moonrath outgrabe... or something similar.......

My name is Skillywidden, I'm a merry cornish sprite,
I strive to do as I am bidden with all my strength of might.
I try to bring you lots of luck, and grant your wishes true,
Some lucky one should have my aid, why shouldn't it be you !

I still have the Skillywidden broach that belonged to my Mum.......... :cry:

Sadly the titles of the books of knowledge from my childhood.... A-BON, BOO-DEW, DAR-GRAP, GRAS-LOM, LOM-PAP, PAR-SOP, SUI-SWI, FACT INDEX.... It's funny what sticks in your brain.... Mum & Dads first car registration number 528 BBE..... Green Renault TCR 36H. Can't even remember the two sitting on the drive now....!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Suelle » March 21st, 2017, 9:25 am

No! I'm sure we did learn poems, as I know the beginning of many, but nothing stuck completely. A memory which wasn't needed after school.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby PatsyMFagan » March 21st, 2017, 10:29 am

Nope ! Same as Suelle .. I may know the beginnings of some, but couldn't recite the full verse.

Usually the dirty version of some classics " A boy stood on the burning deck picking his nose like fury. He rolled it into little balls and flicked it at the jury " :oops: ;) :lol:

I do love 'If' when I see it in print, but could never remember it :(
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Seatallan » March 21st, 2017, 10:35 am

Some I could recite by heart (including a particular favorite Wordsworth poem, some poems by Yates and some by William Blake for example).

Patsy- love your version of the 'Burning Deck'! Never heard that one. Puts me in mind of my favorite limerick:

There once was a man from Cosham
Who got out his bo**ocks to wash 'em
His wife said to him Jack, if you don't put 'em back
I'll tread on the bu**ers and squash 'em!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby karadekoolaid » March 21st, 2017, 10:39 am

I congratulate you Rats and Mr Rats! Memorising reams of poetry is very hard; and probably a lost cause these days!
Like other members, I can recite "the boy stood on the burning deck", "Jabberwocky" and a few choice Rugby songs... :P :P ..oh, and the first line of Goëthe´s "Erlkönig" !
The only way I managed to get through my Latin O level was by memorising 300 lines of Virgil - both in Latin and in English. I think I forgot the lot once I`d passed... :lol:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Zosherooney » March 21st, 2017, 10:40 am

Now I know lots and lots of those Sea....... some far too rude to write down - I'd be terminated from here !!!!!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Zosherooney » March 21st, 2017, 11:19 am

When Mr. Z read the title of this thread, he had a bet with me as to how long it would take to reduce to dirty limericks !!! :lol: :lol: :lol:

One I can tell here (I think, without getting banned) is quite local for me.....

There was a young girl from Devizes,
whose tits were of different sizes
one was small and won nothing at all
the other was huge and wonderful prizes !
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Herbidacious » March 21st, 2017, 11:46 am

I used to be able to recite the following in their entirety:

Little Gidding, The Hollow Men, T.S. Eliot
The Thrushes, October Dawn, Ted Hughes
The Rime of the Ancient mariner - Taylor Coleridge
Large chunks of the Aeneid (translated) - Virgil
Jabberwocky, C.S Lewis

I am now reduced to mere chunks.

I am good at shoving stuff into short (mid?) term memory , but eventually it falls out the other side.

Not all of these were for school... some just for the hell of it.
I have a friend who can remember all the poems she learnt by heart for school.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Herbidacious » March 21st, 2017, 11:47 am

I am not bad at making up limericks on the spot...
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Chinchilla_lady » March 21st, 2017, 12:37 pm

Most of the old possums book of cats ( well theres a surprise) And a fair few lines of Phillip Larkin, you know which one :oops: And almost every limerick I have ever hear....


Meet Gilbert my highly trained moth,
He can swim like a fish through Scotch Broth,
to end his routine
he farts God Save the Queen,
has anyone here got a cloth?
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Ratatouille » March 21st, 2017, 1:22 pm

I didn't go near the more dubious poems and songs :lol:

The limmerick i remember the most vividly is the one our Biology teacher taught us to remember Mendels theory of evolution - I hope it is not too politically incorrect fro anyone!

There was a young woman called Starky
Who had an affair with a darkie
The result of her sins
Was quadruplets not twins
One white, one balck and teo khaki.

I don't know what it is about my brain I can remember great tractss of prose and poetry from parts in plays I took part in in school and at college, but ask me to remember how to spell in any language or which agreements go with what and as for latin eeeeeeeek. I can't remember strings of numbers either though I could recite the periodic table of the elements but U never ever learned a piece of piano music by heart even though I got through all the exams.

When we took the chilldren on long car journeys we used to work our way through the poems of AA Milne and Spike Miiigan's Silly verse for Kids not to mention Dr Zeuss's ABC.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby suffolk » March 21st, 2017, 1:40 pm

Have read and written poetry all my life ...... have many books of poetry and enjoy reading poetry aloud to myself ......... have never learned any by rote other than silly little ditties at primary school .... at my grammar school learning poetry and tracts of Shakespeare by rote was used as a punishment .......... what a good idea that was :rolleyes: Fortunately I was well behaved and it only happened to me once "Is that a dagger which I see before me, the handle towards my hand? Come let me clutch thee, I have thee not and yet I see thee still ........." or I may have been put off Shakespeare and poetry which would have impoverished my life immensely.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Luca » March 21st, 2017, 1:56 pm

earthmaiden wrote:we regularly had to learn poems like that at school for prep and recite them the next day. The teacher would pick people randomly to stand up and prove they had learned them :evil: .


So did we and the history teacher, if you got your dates wrong or misbehaved in any way used to set us not only history homework but also a poem to learn by heart for the next day. I regularly learnt poems! Luckily as I was an avid member of the school drama club I was used to learning things off by heart. 8-)
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Ratatouille » March 21st, 2017, 2:46 pm

Some teachers have a great deal to answer for don't they? I speak as an ex teacher and as the wife and mother of techers.

If we misbehaved in senior school we had to roll the cricket pitch - can't remember what we had to do in the winter time :lol: :lol:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby icelesley » March 21st, 2017, 3:53 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: what are you lot like. Mis spent childhoods no doubt :lol: :lol: Hilarious all the same. I can never remember poems not even funny ones. I struggle to remember jokes too, I laugh before the punchline then foget what it is :lol: :lol: :rolleyes:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Meganthemog » March 21st, 2017, 4:20 pm

Ok if we are on risque limmericks here is a little rhyme my late father's friend quoted to him as she led him up the garden path to the shed he was about to rent.

Come into the garden Maud
And don't be too particular
get your arse against the wall
And I'll have you perpendicular
:oops: :oops: :lol: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby StokeySue » March 21st, 2017, 5:49 pm

I don't really remember learning poetry at school, though we read it and discussed it but that's where the Shakespeare comes from

I also much of Under Milk Wood from performing circa 1971
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Gruney » March 21st, 2017, 6:11 pm

Whilst Titian was mixing rose madder,
His model ascended her ladder.
Her position to Titian
Suggested fruition,
So he nipped up his ladder and had 'er
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Seatallan » March 21st, 2017, 6:22 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Love the wonderful limericks! Loads I've never heard before.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Riocaz » March 21st, 2017, 6:31 pm

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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Seatallan » March 21st, 2017, 6:33 pm

Boom, boom!! :D
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Sloe-Gin » March 21st, 2017, 6:52 pm

Much to my complete annoyance, Mr Sloe has a photographic memory when it comes to pomes. We once had Canadian friends visit and the hub and Mr Sloe were delighted to find they were both fluent in 'The lion and Albert' and 'Lines to a Don'. They are both science based men!

By comparison us wives, well heducated though we were, could barely quote any lines, even though I write poetry and she writes books.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby karadekoolaid » March 21st, 2017, 6:59 pm

can't remember what we had to do in the winter time


We were threatened with cutting the playing fields with a pair of nail scissors... :scared: :scared: :lol:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Ratatouille » March 21st, 2017, 7:56 pm

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

I'm beginning to think I shouldn't have started this! :lol: Mr Rats, over dinner, decided he could still remember the whole of the prologue Uschi and of course he probably could burt I diverted him to Dover Beach , Mathew Arnold, which I love anyway and then he challenged me to my favourite, Keats Ode to a Nightingale - not confident, but fortunately the telephone rang and distracted him :D :D

He came back and said "What a sad pair we are"
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby earthmaiden » March 21st, 2017, 9:22 pm

Sloe-Gin wrote:.... they were both fluent in 'The lion and Albert' ...

Happy memories! That was the party piece of our matron at boarding school when we were aged about 10 or 11. Without too much coaxing, when we were being tucked down for the night, she would sometimes recite the whole poem, accents and all. We considered it a great treat.

This was my mother's classic example of a limerick - I learned ruder ones later!
There was an old man of Bengal
Whose wardrobe was nothing at all,
Wherever he went, he lived in a tent,
And covered himself with a shawl.

My worst school punishment ever after being very naughty was to have to read the Bible in assembly. Genius on the part of the head of our house who somehow realised I loved drawing attention to myself in bad ways but would be almost dumbstruck with fright at having to stand out in front of everyone :lol: .
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby uschi » March 21st, 2017, 9:43 pm

Not a Limmerick, but a little gem by Ogden Nash:

"The cow is of the bovine ilk;
one end is moo, the other milk."
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby karadekoolaid » March 22nd, 2017, 1:22 am

Suffs... that`s Macbeth, right?
Had to study that for O and A level :o
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Rainbow » March 22nd, 2017, 2:49 am

Chinchilla_lady wrote:Most of the old possums book of cats ( well theres a surprise) And a fair few lines of Phillip Larkin, you know which one And almost every limerick I have ever hear....

Yes, I was thinking of that Philip Larkin poem - loved it as a student and it still makes me smile :)

I have an old edition (about 1956) of 'Old Possums book of Practical Cats' which I was given as a child - can't recite the poems but they are all very familiar.
I never had to learn poetry by heart at school and never chose to for myself, but I do enjoy reading some occasionally. I think Having to learn it would be very off-putting :rolleyes:
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby suffolk » March 22nd, 2017, 7:42 am

That's the one KK - Macbeth's soliloquy. :)
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Herbidacious » March 22nd, 2017, 8:10 am

A bit of Auden...
This is the night mail crossing the border
Bringing the cheque and the postal order
letters for the rich, letters for the poor
The shop at the corner and the girl next door...
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Gruney » March 22nd, 2017, 8:34 am

I think it was Roger McGough...

This is the night mail crossing the border
Bringing the cheque and postal order
Leaves on the track
Oh no - turn back!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Herbidacious » March 22nd, 2017, 9:06 am

I do like Roger McGough's PC Plod in love. He was at university with my parents/in my father's hall of residence in the Larkin days ...
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby scullion » March 22nd, 2017, 10:19 am

how about a couple from the west:-

there was a young lady from exeter
so pretty that men craned their necks at her,
one went so far,
as to wave from his car,
the distinguishing mark of his sex at her.


there was a young lady from bude,
who went for a swim in the nude,
a man in a punt,
caught hold of her elbow
and said you can't swim here it's private.

i can do bits of the rubaiyat, too.

ps. there's another about a young man from bude but that's far too rude to post here.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Seatallan » March 22nd, 2017, 10:51 am

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

Uschi, yours reminds me of one of my favorites:

Algy met a bear
The bear met Algy
The bear was bulgy
The bulge was Algy

:D
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby StokeySue » March 22nd, 2017, 11:02 am

When I was a teenager striving to be cool, it was essential to carry in your pocket a copy of Penguin Modern Poets 10, The Mersey Sound, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten, not sure I can still recite any, though I can sing Lily the Pink! :D Brian Patten did a poetry reading at uni, which was good
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby smitch » March 22nd, 2017, 11:07 am

Herbidacious wrote:A bit of Auden...
This is the night mail crossing the border
Bringing the cheque and the postal order
letters for the rich, letters for the poor
The shop at the corner and the girl next door...


This has been sample in a song by Public Service Broadcasting https://youtu.be/WFJPYi3JXw4

They are a pretty random band, their albums are quite nerdy, one is about the space race between the Soviet Union and the USA, for example. They are great live though!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Gruney » March 22nd, 2017, 11:09 am

scullion wrote:how about a couple from the west:-


Here's one - I absolutely daren't post the very many really good ones I know:-

Do you come from Exeter?
No I come from Wareham.
Where all the girls wear calico drawers
And I knows how to tear 'em.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby StokeySue » March 22nd, 2017, 11:36 am

smitch wrote:
Herbidacious wrote:A bit of Auden...
This is the night mail crossing the border
Bringing the cheque and the postal order
letters for the rich, letters for the poor
The shop at the corner and the girl next door...


This has been sample in a song by Public Service Broadcasting https://youtu.be/WFJPYi3JXw4

They are a pretty random band, their albums are quite nerdy, one is about the space race between the Soviet Union and the USA, for example. They are great live though!


I known PSB! Dave Morecroft's Dad is a friend and they are local (my claim to fame this week)
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Ratatouille » March 22nd, 2017, 1:35 pm

We bought a DVD of the original GPO film with poem, with Auden readin it, for GS because he absolutely loved trains when he was little, It completely enchanted him.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Zosherooney » March 22nd, 2017, 5:49 pm

The was a young person from Utoxetter...... :o :o :oops:

Won't do the rest.... :lol: :lol: :lol:

I used to own a book I bought in the states, it was about 4 inches thick and was crammed to the gunnels with every kind of limerick (and some of the history behind their coming to be)
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Seatallan » March 22nd, 2017, 6:32 pm

StokeySue wrote:When I was a teenager striving to be cool, it was essential to carry in your pocket a copy of Penguin Modern Poets 10, The Mersey Sound, Adrian Henri, Roger McGough and Brian Patten


I have a copy of that :D

My favorite is 'Sleep Now' by Roger McGough (in memory of Wilfred Owen). One of those poems that makes me go shivery.
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby Sloe-Gin » March 22nd, 2017, 6:56 pm

I spent a week in France with hub, SiL and BiL. We stayed in a village called Lors. I remember it very well, as we made it our mission to make up a new Limerick daily (we spent every evening in a drunken haze in our gite, concocting wondrous rhymes, most of which have been, thankfully, forgotten)

Here's the first one we tried

There was a young lady from Lors
Whose titties, they hung to the floor
She'd tried every bra
From shops near and far
So she tied them in knots round her jaw.

They went downhill from there, if that is possible!!
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Re: Can you recite a poem by heart

Postby TezzaBear » March 24th, 2017, 11:56 pm

I do know Daffodils, but this limerick kind of thing springs to mind. I will * out the rude bits.

Do your b**ls hang low
Do you swing them to and fro
Do you tie them in a knot
Do you tie them in a bow
Do you get a funny feeling when you slap them on the ceiling
Oh you'll never be a sailor if your b**ls hang low

Granddad would be proud of me for reciting that to you RIP. He used to sing it all the time!
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