You Are Old, My Dear Clerk

“ You are old, my dear clerk,” the young chair said,
“It’s the minutes you write for your pay.
And yet you’re incessantly tweeting instead –
Do you think, at your age, that’s OK?”

“In my youth,” said the clerk, “when just blogging for fun,
I feared Twitter might injure my cred;
But, now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it from morning till bed.”

“You are old,” said the governor, gazing in awe,
“And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you managed to pirouette in through the door –
Pray, what is the reason of that?”

“The mental gymnastics of DfE re-states
Have kept all my faculties supple;
Ofsted revisions and policy updates  –
Allow me to point out a couple?”

“The agenda’s so long and we don’t understand
The right way to talk our way through it.
We try to comply with the law of the land –
Pray, how shall we manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, “the Guide to the Law
Had hundreds of pages within it;
The procedural clout which it gave to the clerk
Has gone, now they’ve chosen to bin it.”

“You are old,” said the chair, “and your mind’s in a fog
– Though your pen is as steady as ever –
You balance your day job with writing a blog;
What made you so awfully clever?”

“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said the clerk; “so don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you downstairs!”

.

Based on this poem by Lewis Carroll:

“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,

“And your hair has become very 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;

But, 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 of that?”

“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his gray locks,

“I kept all my limbs very supple

By the use of this ointment — one shilling the box –

Allow me to sell you a couple?”

 

“You are old,” said the youth, “and your jaws are too weak

For anything tougher than suet;

Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak–

Pray, how did you manage to do it?”

“In my youth,” said his father, “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 balanced 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-stairs!”

 

by Lewis Carroll, who parodied this next poem:

“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,

“The few locks which are left you are grey;

You are hale, father William, a hearty old man;

Now tell me the reason, I pray.”

“In the days of my youth,” father William replied,

“I remember’d that youth would fly fast,

And abus’d not my health and my vigour at first,

That I never might need them at last.”

“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,
“And pleasures with youth pass away.
And yet you lament not the days that are gone;
Now tell me the reason, I pray.”
“In the days of my youth,” father William replied,
“I rememberd that youth could not last;
I thought of the future, whatever I did,
That I never might grieve for the past.”
“You are old, father William,” the young man cried,
“And life must be hast’ning away;
You are cheerful and love to converse upon death;
Now tell me the reason, I pray.”
“I am cheerful, young man,” father William replied,
“Let the cause thy attention engage;
In the days of my youth I remember’d my God!
And He hath not forgotten my age.”
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