Harry Graham (poet)

British writer
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Jocelyn Henry Clive "Harry" Graham (23 December 187430 October 1936) was an English writer. He was a successful journalist and later, after distinguished military service, a leading lyricist for operettas and musical comedies. He is now best remembered as a writer of humorous verse in the tradition of grotesquerie and black humour, exemplified by the verses of W. S. Gilbert and Hilaire Belloc, in his "Ruthless Rhymes."

Harry Graham


  • What hours I spent of precious time,
    What pints of ink I used to waste,
    Attempting to secure a rhyme
    To suit the public taste,
    Until I found a simple plan
    Which makes the lamest lyric scan!

    When I’ve a syllable de trop,
    I cut it off, without apol.:
    This verbal sacrifice, I know,
    May irritate the schol.;
    But all must praise my dev’lish cunn.
    Who realise that Time is Mon.

    • Poetical economy, Lines 1-12

A Macaronic Poem


Kaiser Wilhelm II, visiting Brussels, spoke at length with Baron de Haulleville, Director of the Congo Museum, in French, German and English. Harry Graham imagined their conversation.

  • "Guten Morgen, mon ami!
    Heute ist es schönes Wetter!
    Charmé de vous voir ici!
    Never saw you looking better!"
    • Lines 1-4
  • "Ich muss cherchez mon hôtel.
    What a charming Schwätzerei, sir!
    Lebe wohl! Adieu! Farewell!
    Vive le Congo! Hoch der Kaiser!"
    • Lines 13-16

Ruthless Rhymes for Heartless Homes (1899)

  • Billy, in one of his nice new sashes,
    Fell in the fire and was burnt to ashes;
    Now, although the room grows chilly,
    I haven't the heart to poke poor Billy.
    • Tender-Heartedness
  • When Grandmamma fell off the boat,
    And couldn’t swim, and wouldn’t float,
    Maria just sat by and smiled -
    I almost could have slapped the child!
    • Indifference
  • Weep not for little Leonie,
    Abducted by a French Marquis!
    Though loss of honour was a wrench,
    Just think how it's improved her French.
    • Compensation
  • O'er the rugged mountain's brow
    Clara threw the twins she nursed,
    And remarked, "I wonder now
    Which will reach the bottom first?"
    • Calculating Clara
  • That morning, when my wife eloped
    With James, our chauffeur, how I moped!
    What tragedies in life there are!
    I'm dashed if I can start the car.
    • Tragedy
  • When Baby's cries grew hard to bear
    I popped him in the Frigidaire.
    I never would have done so if
    I'd known that he'd be frozen stiff.
    My wife said: 'George, I'm so unhappé!
    Our darling's now completely frappé!
    • L'Enfant Glacé
  • Uncle, whose inventive brains
    kept evolving aeroplanes,
    fell from an enormous height
    upon my garden lawn last night.
    Flying is a fatal sport,
    uncle wrecked the tennis court.
    • Uncle
  • "There's been an accident!" they said,
    "Your servant's cut in half; he's dead."
    "Indeed!" said Mr Jones, "and please
    Give me the half that's got my keys."
    • Accident
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