Nonsense Songs: The Songs That Came Out Wrong

Song Cycle by Liza Lehmann (1862 - 1918)

Word count: 1183

1. How doth the little crocodile [sung text not yet checked]

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!

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Note: a parody of Isaac Watt's Against Idleness and Mischief

Researcher for this text: Barbara Miller

2. Fury Said to a Mouse [sung text not yet checked]

[   "Mine is a long and a sad tale!" said the Mouse, 
turning to Alice, and sighing.
    "It is a long tail, certainly," said Alice, looking down
with wonder at the Mouse's tail;  "but why do you call 
it sad?"  
    And she kept on puzzling about it while the 
Mouse was speaking, so that her idea of the tale was 
something like this:]1

                    `Fury said to a
                   mouse, That he
                 met in the
               house,
            "Let us
              both go to
                law:  I will
                  prosecute
                    YOU.  --Come,
                       I'll take no
                        denial; We
                     must have a
                 trial:  For
              really this
           morning I've
          nothing
         to do."
           Said the
             mouse to the
               cur, "Such
                 a trial,
                   dear Sir,
                         With
                     no jury
                  or judge,
                would be
              wasting
             our
              breath."
               "I'll be
                 judge, I'll
                   be jury,"
                         Said
                    cunning
                      old Fury:
                     "I'll
                      try the
                         whole
                          cause,
                             and
                        condemn
                       you
                      to
                       death."'

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1 omitted by Lehmann.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

3. You Are Old, Father William [sung text not yet checked]

"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 have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door--
Pray what is the reason of 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 the box--
Allow me to sell you a couple?"

"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are to weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak--
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"

"In my youth," said his father, "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 ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose--
What made you so awfully clever?"

"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said the 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!"

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Note: this text is a parody of Robert Southey's The Old Man's Comforts and How he Gained Them.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Speak Roughly to Your Little Boy [sung text not yet checked]

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes;
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

I speak severely to my boy,
[I]1 beat him when he sneezes;
For he can thoroughly enjoy
The pepper when [he]2 pleases!

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Note: this is a parody of David Bates' "Speak Gently."
1 or "And"
2 or "ye"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. Will You Walk a Little Faster [sung text checked 1 time]

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.
"There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle -- will you come and join the dance? 
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?

"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!"
But the snail replied "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance --
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.

"What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied.
"There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The [further]1 off from England the nearer is to France --
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance. 
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?"

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1Ligeti: "farther"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Mockturtle Soup [sung text not yet checked]

Beautiful Soup, so rich and green,
Waiting in a hot tureen!
Who for such dainties would not stoop?
Soup of the evening, beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful, beautiful Soup!

Beautiful Soup!  Who cares for fish,
Game, or any other dish?
Who would not give all else for two
Pennyworth only of beautiful Soup?
Beautiful Soup!
Beautiful Soup!
Soup of the evening,
Beautiful, beautiful soup!

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Researcher for this text: Barbara Miller

7. The Queen of Hearts [sung text not yet checked]

The Queen of Hearts,
She made some tarts,
All on a summer's day;
The Knave of hearts,
He stole those tarts,
And took them clean away.

The King of Hearts
Called for the tarts,
And beat the knave full sore;
The Knave of hearts
Brought back the tarts,
And vowed he'd steal no more.

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Researcher for this text: Ferdinando Albeggiani

8. They Told Me You Had Been to Her [sung text not yet checked]

They told me you had been to her,
And mentioned me to him:
She gave me a good character,
But said I could not swim.

He sent them word I had not gone
(We know it to be true):
If she should push the matter on,
What would become of you?

I gave her one, they gave him two,
You gave us three or more;
They all returned from him to you,
Though they were mine before.

If I or she should chance to be
Involved in this affair,
He trusts to you to set them free,
Exactly as we were.

My notion was that you had been
(Before she had this fit)
An obstacle that came between
Him, and ourselves, and it.

Don't let him know she liked them best,
For this must ever be
A secret, kept from all the rest,
Between yourself and me.'

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

9. Epilogue [sung text checked 1 time]

[ ... ]

Alice! A childish story take,
And with a gentle hand,
Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined
In Memory's mystic band,
Like pilgrim's wither'd wreath of flowers
Pluck'd in far-off land.

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]