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T is for … Tongue-Twisters!

I promised to talk about Tongue-Twisters next and I will keep my word.

I found in the same book “The Works 8” by John Foster a category marked


John Foster defines it as such:

“A tongue-twister is a poem that is difficult to say properly without making a mistake, because it uses similar or repeated sounds.”

Here are a few examples: I dare you not to stumble!

A Twister of Twists

A Twister of twists once twisted a twist,

The twist that he twisted was a three-twisted twist;

If in twisting the twist, one twist should untwist,

The untwisted twist would untwist the twist.


Well Swum Swan

Swan swam over the sea,

Swim, swan, swim.

Swan swam back again,

Well swum swan.


There’s no need to light a night light

There’s no need to light a night light

on a light night like tonight;

For a night light’s a slight light

on a light night like tonight.


Wow, this Anon. guy is really good! Whahahaha!

A Flee and a Fly in a Flue

A flee and a fly in a flue

were caught, so what could they do?

Said the fly: “Let us flee.”

“Let us fly,” said the flea.

So they flew through a flaw in the flue.


Oh, but there is so much more to come!

Shaun Short’s Short Shorts

Shaun Short bought some shorts.

The shorts were shorter than Shaun Short thought.

Shaun Short’s short shorts were so short

Shaun Short thought, Shaun you ought,

not to have bought shorts so short.

(By yours truly – John Foster)


A Twister for Two Tongues

‘I can can-can.

Can you can-can?’

‘Yes, I can can-can, too.

In fact, I can can-can

very, very well.

I can can-can better than you.’

‘No, you can’t can-can

better than I can can-can

because I can can-can better!’

‘Bet you can’t!’

‘Bet I can!’

‘Bet you can’t!’

‘Bet I can! I can! I can can-can better!’

Cynthia Rider

Theophilus Thrapplethorn

Theophilus Thrapplethorn,

the celebrated thistle-sifter,

while sifting a sieve of unsifted thistles

thrust three thousand thistles

through the thick of his thumb.

If Theophilus Thrapplethorn

the successful thistle-sifter,

thrust three thousand thistles

through the thick of his thumb,

See that thou

when thou siftest a sieve of thistles

Dost not get the unsifted thistles

stuck in thy thumb!


I saw Esau

I saw Esau kissing Kate

Fact is we all three saw.

I saw Esau, he saw me,

and she saw I saw Esau.


And then I came with a saw and sawed them all in half! Tee-hee-hee!

Here’s another version:

i saw esau sawing

and esau saw I saw him

though esau saw him saw

still esau went on sawing

Pop Bottles Pop-bottles

Pop bottles pop-bottles

in pop shops;

The pop-bottles Pop bottles

poor Pop drops.

When Pop drops pop-bottles,

pop-bottles plop.

When pop-bottles topple,

Pop mops slop.


It’s hard to make people understand if they don’t see it with their own eyes.

Enough of poems! Here are some other Tongue-twisters I know.

Moses supposes his toses are roses

but Moses supposes ironiously.

But, Moses he knowses his toses aren’t roses

as Moses supposes his toses to be.

That, my friends, is featured in the best musical of all times – Singin’ in the Rain.

I also know one in Afrikaans that is actually a song:

Sannie sê Sannie sal sewe sakke sout sleep

sewe sakke sout sleep swaar sowaar.

Sannie sê Sannie sal sewe sakke sout sleep

sewe sakke sout sleep swaar sowaar!

You can dry up your drool now!

Do you know of some tongue-twisters and like to share?


More nonsense poems!

The last two weeks were hectic! I wanted to do this post earlier, but I didn’t get a chance.


I remember in one of my student internships at a magazine I obtained this awesome book: “The Works 8: Every shape, style and form of poem that you will ever need for the Literacy Hour – Chosen by John Foster”. I’m so glad I got this book otherwise I would have never learned there was such a thing as nonsense poems. John Foster has a category especially reserved for it: “N is for…”

He defines nonsense poems as such:

” A nonsense poem is a poem which describes nonsensical people, events or things or which uses nonsense words.” (p.189)

Here are some examples:

The Num-Num Bird

Have you ever heard of the Num-Num bird?

Have you ogled his terrible beak?

He could peck off your nose, or your fingers or toes,

With one speedy but effortless tweak.


The Num-Num nests in warm woolly vests

Which he steals from your washing line

And he uses the pegs to hold in his eggs

Of  which he has eight or nine.


The Num-Num bird is a trifle absurd

For his legs are a metre long

and he speeds down the street with his size 12 feet

A-singing his Num-Num song.


If you ever hear a strange whisper in your ear

‘Num-Num!’ then you’d better run

For you’re doomed if he sees your extremities

Cos he’ll nibble them one by one.

Doda Smith



Yaks like yoghurt!

Yes they do!

If a yak gets a yoghart he yells


If you give a yak a yoghurt

He will yell YIPPEE!

‘Yoghurt is yummy

More yoghurt for me!’


Snakes like a snack of sausages

Ssssso they sssay

If a snake has a sausage

he will suck it all day.

So get a sizzling sausage

slap it on the slab

so every passing python says

‘You are SSSsssssimply FAB!

Michaela Morgan


Ladies and Jellybeans

Ladies and jellybeans

Reptiles and crocodiles

I stand before you

And sit behind you

To tell you something

I know nothing about.

There will be a meeting tomorrow night

Right after breakfast

To decide which colour

To whitewash the church.

There is no admission;

Just pay at the door.

There will be plenty of seats,

So sit on the floor.



The Owl and the Pussy Cat

The Owl and the Pussy Cat went to sea

in a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

and sang to a small guitar,

‘O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are,

You are,

You are,

What a beautiful Pussy you are!’


Pussy said to the Owl, ‘You elegant fowl!

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

but what shall we do for a ring?’

They sailed away for a year and a day,

to the land where the Bong-tree grows,

and there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at his nose.


‘Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?’ Said the Piggy, ‘I will.’

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

which they ate with a runcible spoon;

and hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear


He also mentions the Jabberwocky poem, but I have already mentioned it in a previous post.

In the next post I’ll be talking about tongue twisters.