Amusement Poems

Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog Which I Gave to His Royal Highness

by Alexander Pope

‘Epigram Engraved on the Collar of a Dog’ is a humorous, playful, and extremely concise poem that presents the dog’s feelings of superiority.

Intended to be humorous, the poem's principle achievement is how amusing it is, given the paucity of words it contains. In just two lines, Pope achieved a sense of absurdity many would struggle to create in a dozen or more.

I am his Highness' dog at Kew;

Pray tell me, sir, whose dog are you?

Ars Poetica

by Horace

The ‘Ars Poetica’ is a 476-line didactic epistolary poem by the Roman poet Horace. This humorous, engaging verse teaches the wannabe poet how to write good stories and develop meaningful art.

Horace's exaggerated similes, imagery, puns, and ironic statements are a great example of how a dry topic can become amusing - if the author is good at his job. While this poem may be over 2,000 years old, it is fresh and full of amusement for any listener.

If a painter wishes to conjoin a horse neck to a human head and add on various feathers all over collaged-on limbs so that what is a beautiful woman on top repulsively breaks down into black fish, could you, friends, stifle your laughter after looking at it?

The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

by Rupert Brooke

‘The Old Vicarage, Grantchester’ is a light poem about a homesick traveler sentimentally remembering his former home in the English town of Grantchester. The poem takes a gently satirical tone to its subject matter.

While there are many poems that are wholly serious, 'The Old Vicarage, Grantchester' is just about the opposite. There are no hard, difficult lessons or truly unpleasant ideas. This is a light poem that is gently satirical of its subject matter. The result is a pleasant, amusing poem to read. The amusing quality of the poem is highlighted by several satirical lines that are very memorable for the funny way they subvert the surface-level meaning of the speaker's message.

Just now the lilac is in bloom,

All before my little room;

And in my flower-beds, I think,

Smile the carnation and the pink;

My Number

by Billy Collins

‘My Number’ by Billy Collins takes a jocular approach to wrangling with the existential anxieties brought on when thinking about death.

The poem is highly amusing, given its ironic portrayal of death and the speaker's seeming nonchalance over the specter's location despite trying to make themselves hard to find. Of course, these emotions are meant to distract the speaker from their fears of death. The poem underscores that humor can take help cope with death's specter but not avoid it.

Is Death miles away from this house,

reaching for a widow in Cincinnati

or breathing down the neck of a lost hiker

in British Columbia?

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

by Edward Lear

‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’ by Edward Lear is a simple, joy-filled poem that tells the marriage story of an owl and a cat. 

This is a poem that is sure to amuse readers of all ages. Its playful language, whimsical imagery, and nonsensical words and phrases create a sense of delight and entertainment that is hard to resist.

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.


by Kay Ryan

‘Bestiary’ by Kay Ryan is a short, cynical, and witty free verse poem in which the speaker explores the differences between what is good and what is best.

'Bestiary' is a very light, easy poem to listen to, and it uses simple language and humor to delight the reader. As such, like Ryan's other poems, it is an enjoyable piece of literature, and though it has a moral, the silly tone keeps readers from taking this moral too seriously.

A bestiary catalogs

bests. The mediocres

both higher and lower

are suppressed in favor

City of Orgies

by Walt Whitman

‘City of Orgies’ by Walt Whitman is a poem written by the celebrated American poet Walt Whitman. The poem is a reflection on the city of Manhattan and Whitman’s experiences in the midst of its bustling urban culture. 

The poem expresses the emotion of amusement, with Whitman describing the various forms of entertainment and distraction that can be found in the city. From the circus to the theater, Whitman's poetry celebrates the diverse array of amusements that add to the vibrancy of urban life.

City of orgies, walks and joys,

City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one day

make you illustrious,

Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your specta-

cles, repay me,

The Crocodile

by Lewis Carroll

‘The Crocodile’ by Lewis Carroll tells, very briefly, of a crocodile who sneakily attracts fish and then swallows them with a big smile on his face.

This poem is meant to provide entertainment and amusement to its readers. The poem's playful language, imaginative imagery, and light-hearted tone make it a fun and enjoyable read.

How doth the little crocodile

     Improve his shining tail,

And pour the waters of the Nile

     On every golden scale!


by Lewis Carroll

‘Jabberwocky’ by Lewis Carroll is a brilliant nonsense poem. It tells the story of one person’s quest to slay the Jabberwock and the incredible creatures they meet along the way.

This is a humorous and entertaining poem that is meant to be enjoyed for its playful wordplay and nonsense. The poem showcases Carrol's talent for amusing language, which challenges readers to engage with the text in new and exciting ways.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

And the mome raths outgrabe.


by Frederick Seidel

‘1968’ describes the aftermath of a raucous Hollywood party. Seidel works into this context a broader critique of sociopolitical realities.

The setting of the poem is, of course, one where (so-called) amusement has been taking place. In addition, the poem itself, paradoxically given the subject matter, is, in its dark way, rather amusing. Indeed, for reasons not perfectly clear, the sight of excessive indulgence, intemperance, and what one might, finally, call folly can be funny. This is what makes satire possible.

A football spirals through the oyster glow

Of dawn dope and fog in L.A.’s

Bel Air, punted perfectly. The foot

That punted it is absolutely stoned.

The Beach

by Robert Graves

‘The Beach’ by Robert Graves is a poem about the contrast between childhood innocence and an adult mindset. The poem depicts this dichotomy by demonstrating the difference between how a boatman and a group of children interact with the ocean.

Amusement is one of the main emotions felt in this poem. It's seen as the children play and have fun in the water while the adults look on, amused. The poem also portrays the sea as a source of amusement, with the children laughing and playing in the waves.

Louder than gulls the little children scream

Whom fathers haul into the jovial foam;

But others fearlessly rush in, breast high,

Laughing the salty water from their mouthes—


by Kenneth Koch

‘Permanently’ by Kenneth Koch is a poem that compares the speaker’s love to the part of speech they view as the most essential.

While reading the poem you might not be aware of what's going on the entire time, but Koch's images are amusing to say the least. Not to mention his wordplay and use of puns.

One day the Nouns were clustered in the street.

An Adjective walked by, with her dark beauty.

The Nouns were struck, moved, changed.

The next day a Verb drove up, and created the Sentence.

Jest ‘Fore Christmas

by Eugene Field

‘Jest ‘Fore Christmas’ is a humorous, five-stanza poem that’s written from the perspective of a young boy looking forward to Christmas.

The speaker is a very amused by how he's been able to trick his parents into giving him more Christmas presents. He knows exactly what they want him to do, and he starts behaving right before Christmas.

Father calls me William, sister calls me Will,

Mother calls me Willie, but the fellers call me Bill!

Mighty glad I ain't a girl - ruther be a boy,

Without them sashes, curls, an' things that's worn by Fauntleroy!

On The Birth of a Son

by Su Tung-Po

“On The Birth of a Son” by Su Tung-Po explores the place of intelligence in society, looking at how it actually leads to unhappiness rather than joy.

Readers are likely to feel a degree of amusement at the poet's use of irony in this piece. The idea of hoping for a child to be ignorant and stupid to ensure a happy life can be seen as somewhat humorous.

Families when a child is born

Hope it will turn out intelligent.

I, through intelligence

Portrait of Zimri

by John Dryden

‘Portrait of Zimri’ by John Dryden is a political satire that showcases how people in power can be consumed by hollow and pretentious self interest.

Dryden, in this poem, writes about all the amusement at the center of the life of the Duke of Buckingham, referred to as Zimri. The poet uses satire to demonstrate how Zimri is quite talented and loves art, and enjoys indulging in a fine life. However, this is all to portray how he wastes resources that should be used for the betterment of society.

Some of their chiefs were princes of the land:

In the first rank of these did Zimri stand:

A man so various, that he seem'd to be

Not one, but all Mankind's Epitome.



by Lawrence Ferlinghetti 

‘Dog’ by Lawrence Ferlinghetti is a philosophically complex poem that uses the perspective of a dog to speak on free will and religion.

While this is a serious poem, there are elements that readers are likely to find amusing. Seeing the world through a dog's eyes is a curious experience, one that is very well described in Ferlinghetti's free verse poem.

The dog trots freely in the street

and sees reality

and the things he sees

The Minuet

by Mary Mapes Dodge

‘The Minuet’ by Mary Mapes Dodge alludes to the many changes that the passage of time presents. This is specially related to the way that one speaker’s grandmother has changed.

The image of their grandmother dancing deeply amuses the speaker. It stands in stark contrast with how they commonly imagine their grandmother acting and is at the heart of the poem's upbeat tone.

Grandma told me all about it,

Told me so I couldn’t doubt it,

How she danced—my Grandma danced!—

Long ago

The Tale of Custard the Dragon

by Ogden Nash

‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’ by Ogden Nash is a ballad about a young girl, Belinda, and her four pets, one of whom is a cowardly dragon named Custard.

The poem features a lot of playful humor, from the silly names of the pets to the exaggerated descriptions of the dragon and the pirate. This poem is perfectly suited to entertain and amuse young readers.
Belinda lived in a little white house, With a little black kitten and a little gray mouse, And a little yellow dog and a little red wagon, And a realio, trulio, little pet dragon.  


by Frederick William Harvey

‘Ducks’ by F.W. Harvey is a charming and interesting poem about the movements and lives of ducks. It looks at their humorous and calming features.

The ducks are highly amusing to the speaker, who turns to nature for entertainment and peace when he needs it. He finds the ducks an escape from the world's troubles, something that Harvey is very familiar with.

From troubles of the world

I turn to ducks,

Beautiful comical things

Sleeping or curled

Their heads beneath white wings

A little Dog that wags his tail

by Emily Dickinson

In ‘A little Dog that wags his tail’ Emily Dickinson explores themes of human nature, the purpose of life, and freedom. She compares animals, cats and dogs, to adults and children.

A little Dog that wags his tail

And knows no other joy

Of such a little Dog am I

Reminded by a Boy

A Route of Evanescence

by Emily Dickinson

‘A Route of Evanescence’ by Emily Dickinson describes its subject through a series of metaphors, allusions, and images. But, never actually states that the subject is a hummingbird.

A Route of Evanescence,

With a revolving Wheel –

A Resonance of Emerald

Danse Russe

by William Carlos Williams

Danse Russe by William Carlos Williams is a lighthearted poem in which the poet dances naked before a mirror. The poet, as he dances, admires himself and his own company, relishing his loneliness.

If I when my wife is sleeping

and the baby and Kathleen

are sleeping

and the sun is a flame-white disc

Eel Tail

by Alice Oswald

‘Eel Tail,’ a poem by contemporary British poet Alice Oswald, is about the mysteriously beautiful eels and their swift movements in the water.


by Carl Sandburg

‘Fog’ by Carl Sandburg is a poem that expresses the author’s appreciation for the little events that occur in nature. The poem characterizes the fog as a graceful cat, which endears it in the eye of the reader.

He ate and drank the precious words

by Emily Dickinson

‘He ate and drank the precious words’ by Emily Dickinson is an uplifting poem. It celebrates the joys of reading by describing one man’s experience.

He ate and drank the precious words,

His spirit grew robust;

He knew no more that he was poor,

Nor that his frame was dust.

High Windows

by Philip Larkin

‘High Windows’ by Philip Larkin discusses the way that relationships, sex, and societal standards change from one generation to the next. 

I saw no Way – The Heavens were stitched

by Emily Dickinson

‘I saw no Way – The Heavens were stitched’ by Emily Dickinson depicts heaven and the afterlife. The poet thoughtfully explores how she feels about the breadth of the universe.

I saw no Way—The Heavens were stitched—

I felt the Columns close—

The Earth reversed her Hemispheres— I

touched the Universe—


by Robert Frost

‘Money’ by Robert Frost warns readers not to stress over every expenditure. This poem’s concise and eloquent use of rhyme makes a long lasting impression on the reader.

Never ask of money spent

Where the spender thinks it went.

Money, O!

by William H. Davies

‘Money, O!’ by W.H Davies is a poem that argues that having a lot of money is not all that it’s cracked up to be. While being well off financially comes with its benefits, it comes at the expense of genuine relationships.

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