From Paradise Lost by John Milton
Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree whose mortal taste
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, Heav'nly Muse, that, on the secret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd who first taught the chosen seed
In the beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth
Rose out of Chaos; or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost prefer
Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first
Wast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,
Dovelike sat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad'st it pregnant: what in me is dark
Illumine; what is low, raise and support;
That, to the height of this great argument,
I may assert Eternal Providence,
And justify the ways of God to men.
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So Fair is She by Spike Milligan
So fair is she!
So fair her face
So fair her pulsing figure
Not so fair
The maniacal stare
Of a husband who's much bigger.
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The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak by A. A. Milne
Of all the Knights in Appledore
The wisest was Sir Thomas Tom.
He multiplied as far as four,
And knew what nine was taken from
To make eleven. He could write
A letter to another Knight.
No other Knight in all the land
Could do the things which he could do.
Not only did he understand
The way to polish swords, but knew
What remedy a Knight should seek
Whose armour had begun to squeak.
And, if he didn't fight too much,
It wasn't that he didn't care
For blips and buffetings and such,
But felt that it was hardly fair
To risk, by frequent injuries,
A brain as delicate as his.
His castle (Castle Tom) was set
Conveniently on a hill;
And daily, when it wasn't wet,
He paced the battlements until
Some smaller Knight who couldn't swim
Should reach the moat and challenge him.
Or sometimes, feeling full of fight,
He hurried out to scour the plain,
And, seeing some approaching Knight,
He either hurried home again,
Or hid; and, when the foe was past,
Blew a triumphant trumpet-blast.
One day when good Sir Thomas Tom
Was resting in a handy ditch,
The noises he was hiding from,
Though very much the noises which
He'd always hidden from before,
Seemed somehow less....Or was it more?
The trotting horse, the trumpet's blast,
The whistling sword, the armour's squeak,
These, and especially the last,
Had clattered by him all the week.
Was this the same, or was it not?
Something was different. But what?
Sir Thomas raised a cautious ear
And listened as Sir Hugh went by,
And suddenly he seemed to hear
(Or not to hear) the reason why
This stranger made a nicer sound
Than other Knights who lived around.
Sir Thomas watched the way he went -
His rage was such he couldn't speak,
For years they'd called him down in Kent
The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak!
Yet here and now he looked upon
Another Knight whose squeak had gone.
He rushed to where his horse was tied;
He spurred it to a rapid trot.
The only fear he felt inside
About his enemy was not
'How sharp his sword?' 'How stout his heart?'
But 'Has he got too long a start?'
Sir Hugh was singing, hand on hip,
When something sudden came along,
And caught him a terrific blip
Right in the middle of his song.
'A thunderstorm!' he thought. 'Of course!'
And toppled gently off his horse.
Then said the good Sir Thomas Tom,
Dismounting with a friendly air,
'Allow me to extract you from
The heavy armour that you wear.
At times like these the bravest Knight
May find his armour much too tight.'
A hundred yards or so beyond
The scene of brave Sir Hugh's defeat
Sir Thomas found a useful pond,
And, careful not to wet his feet,
He brought the armour to the brink,
And flung it in...and watched it sink.
So ever after, more and more,
The men of Kent would proudly speak
Of Thomas Tom of Appledore,
'The Knight Whose Armour Didn't Squeak.'
Whilst Hugh, the Knight who gave him best,
Squeaks just as badly as the rest.
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The Road not Taken by Robert Frost
Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
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The Pig by Roald Dahl
In England once there lived a big
And wonderfully clever pig.
To everybody it was plain
That Piggy had a massive brain.
He worked out sums inside his head,
There was no book he hadn’t read,
He knew what made an airplane fly,
He knew how engines worked and why.
He knew all this, but in the end
One question drove him round the bend:
He simply couldn’t puzzle out
What LIFE was really all about.
What was the reason for his birth?
Why was he placed upon this earth?
His giant brain went round and round.
Alas, no answer could be found,
Till suddenly one wondrous night,
All in a flash, he saw the light.
He jumped up like a ballet dancer
And yelled, “By gum, I’ve got the answer!”
“They want my bacon slice by slice
“To sell at a tremendous price!
“They want my tender juicy chops
“To put in all the butchers’ shops!
“They want my pork to make a roast
“And that’s the part’ll cost the most!
“They want my sausages in strings!
“They even want my chitterlings!
“The butcher’s shop! The carving knife!
“That is the reason for my life!”
Such thoughts as these are not designed
To give a pig great peace of mind.
Next morning, in comes Farmer Bland,
A pail of pigswill in his hand,
And Piggy with a mighty roar,
Bashes the farmer to the floor . . .
Now comes the rather grizzly bit
So let’s not make too much of it,
Except that you must understand
That Piggy did eat Farmer Bland,
He ate him up from head to toe,
Chewing the pieces nice and slow.
It took an hour to reach the feet,
Because there was so much to eat,
And when he’d finished, Pig, of course,
Felt absolutely no remorse.
Slowly he scratched his brainy head
And with a little smile, he said,
“I had a fairly powerful hunch
“That he might have me for his lunch.
“And so, because I feared the worst,
“I thought I’d better eat him first.”
“The Pig” from Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl, published by Jonathan Cape Ltd & Penguin Books Ltd (UK) and Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc (USA) © 1983.
Source: Dirty Beasts (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1983)