As a boy I was very taken with the ‘Little Willy’ poems. Sadly, I have absolutely no recollection of who they were written by, nor where I read them, but I do remember that the form of these little rhymes never varied. I can remember two of them today – over fifty years on:
Little Willy with a shout
Gouged the baby’s eyeballs out;
Stamped on them to make them ‘Pop!’ –
Mother cried, ‘Now William stop!’
Little William with a roar
Nailed the baby to the door.
Mother cried, with humour quaint,
‘Careful Will, you’ll mar the paint.’
A have absolutely no idea why they appealed to me so greatly, but I thought it was about time that I allowed myself to take inspiration from them. I hope that whoever wrote the originals will forgive me…
Little Willy, with a yen,
Threw baby in the lion’s den.
Mother seemed to be quite happy –
‘It was almost time to change his nappy.’
Sadly, it was at this point that I realised that at least fifty percent of my readers (‘Hello’ to both of you) will not know what a nappy is (actually the diminutive of napkin I believe – although how it came to be wrapped about a baby’s nethers I am not sure). I understand that American babies have diapers (the etymology of which completely escapes me) and I couldn’t make that rhyme in any sensible way, so I tried again.
Little Willy with a yell
Dropped the baby down a well
Filled up with piranha fish –
Mother whispered ‘Make a wish.’
Which, in the end, I’m probably happier with…