Ruthless Rhymes

Ruthless Rhymes


In his book ‘Word Play‘ (Pub. Coronet Books, 2015) Gyles Brandreth talks about his love of short pithy rhymes which he calls ‘Potted Poetry’ or ‘Terse Verse’.  He particularly enjoys those which he calls ‘ruthless’ and which make a pungent point in just 4 lines.  One such which he quotes is:

‘I had written to Aunt Maud
Who was on a trip abroad
When I heard she’d died of cramp –
Just too late to save the stamp.’

He goes on to invite his readers to compose their own ‘ruthless rhymes’.  I doubt if the following could be considered as ruthless as his examples, but here are a few which I managed to create . . .


Winston Hawden Archibald Hughes
Revelled in a life of booze;
One night he downed a bottle of gin,
The landlord rang his next of kin.

I pressed the bell just for a lark,
‘Twas 8 o’clock and after dark.
A lady answered in her nightie,
But sadly she was over ninety.

I longed to kiss her slender neck,
To take a bite not just a peck,
But when I got the chance to do it,
My vampire teeth just weren’t up to it.

Well, tell me now what you would do
If your old man had said to you,
“I no longer want you for a wife” –
I’d stab him with my butter knife.



The original ‘Ruthless Rhymes’ were composed by Harry Graham and his book ‘RUTHLESS RHYMES FOR HEARTLESS PEOPLE’ was published in 1898.  It contains many short rhymes, all wickedly cruel and completely without morals.

Jocelyn Henry Clive ‘Harry’ Graham (1874–1936) was an English writer. He was a successful journalist who is now best remembered as a writer of verse full of black humour.  At the time of publication of this and several follow-up collections of verse written in a similar vein, Harry Graham was compared to W.S.Gilbert, Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. It has also been suggested that his verse and prose, all exhibiting a delight in language, was an early influence on P. G. Wodehouse.  More information on Harry Graham can be found on the Ruthless Rhymes website and on Wikipedia



My Library, My Life

My Library

My Library, My Life

The best way to find out
About who someone is?
Examine their library –
No need for a quiz.

My library is big,
Just take a look.
What you’ll find in it
Is book after book.

My bookshelves are full
Of books of all kinds
I’ve scoured the bookshops
Made remarkable finds.

Books I have read;
Books I might read one day;
Books never read,
Just there for display.

Books bought on a whim,
Not ‘cos of need,
Some temporary fashion
My psyche to feed.

Milligan and Wodehouse,
Others quite scholastic;
Some books of value
Wrapped up in plastic.

Books from my schooldays
And courses of study
‘Duchess Of Malfi’,
Such tales that are bloody!

Books presented to me,
Complete with inscriptions;
D.I.Y books,
Complete with descriptions.

Books I have borrowed
With library covers;
Books now on loan
From other book lovers.

Dickens and Trollope,
Austen and Hardy,
Similar authors
With whose reading I’m tardy.

Histories, biographies,  
And Poets galore,
Who once I indulged in,
Like Rabindranath Tagore.

Pop-up books from childhood
And Sunday school prizes
Maps and old diaries
And other surprises.

Games, chess and bridge,
Whole sections you’ll find
On Yorkshire and China
First editions – unsigned!

A few spaces for books
which I’ve lent out to others,
Awaiting return
With or without covers.

Look close and you’ll find
What once filled my mind;
Many are mystery now,
Since my memory declined.

But, never-the-less,
I still love them all,
Or perhaps I just keep them
To decorate the wall.

My Books