“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.” ~ Roald Dahl
Nonsense poems and plays have been entertaining children and adults alike for years. The origin of nonsense poems can be traced back to as early as the 1700s, and have been produced by such fabulous authors as Lewis Carroll, Spike Milligan, Dr Seuss, Jake Prelutsky, Shel Silverstein and many more. As nonsense poetry developed and became more and more prevalent in literature, the theme made it’s way into theatre and graced us with such hilarious skits as Monty Python and movie adaptations of classic nonsense literature like “Alice in Wonderland”.
The nonsense poems that we know and love tend to depict imaginative characters in amusing situations of fantasy, such as T.S. Eliot’s “Possum’s book of practical cats” and the whimsical collections of Edward Lear poems and limericks. Nonsense scripts and poems often are created with a rhythmic appeal, employing fanciful phrases and meaningless made-up words. The theme of nonsense often finds it’s way into any drama syllabus, as students simply love the poetry and characters.
Here are a few wonderful examples of short nonsense poems that we would like to share with you…
Invitation by Shel Silverstein
If you are a dreamer, come in
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer…
If you’re a pretender, come sit by the fire
For we have some flax-golden tales to spin.
The Folk Who Live in Backward Town by Mary Ann Hoberman
The folk who live in Backward Town
Are inside out and upside down.
They wear their hats inside their heads
And go to sleep beneath their beds.
They only eat the apple peeling
And take their walks across the ceiling.
Magical Eraser by Shel Silverstein
She wouldn’t believe
This pencil has
A magical eraser.
She said I was a silly moo,
She said I was a liar too,
She dared me to prove that it was true,
And so what could I do-
I erased her!
A peanut sat on a railroad track,
His heart was all a-flutter,
Round the bend came number ten.
Toot! Toot! Peanut butter! Squish!
(words by Madeline Fairley)