‘You are old, father William,’ the young man said,
‘And your hair is exceedingly 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:
Nut 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 for 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, five shillings 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 eat all the goose, with the bones and the beak –
Pray, how did you manage to do it?’

‘In my youth,’ said the old man, ‘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 balance an eel on the end of your nose –
What made you so awfully clever?’

‘I have answered three questions, and that is enough,’
Said his 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 the stairs!’

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