You Are Old Father William Nursery Rhyme- Lyrics, Video, and Printable

You Are Old Father William is a humorous and satirical poem by Lewis Carroll.

It was first published in 1865 as part of his famous “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” work.

The poem is a parody of “The Old Man’s Comforts and How He Gained Them” by Robert Southey.

In the poem, Father William is depicted as an old man who responds to a young man’s questioning about his ability to stand on his head. Father William explains his agility and vigor through a series of humorous and exaggerated responses despite his old age.

Each response highlights a physical feat that Father William can still perform despite his advanced years.

The poem’s playful tone and witty verses make it a beloved classic in children’s literature.

It’s often recited and referenced in various adaptations of “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and has become a part of popular culture.

Lyrics for You Are Old Father William

“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 grey 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 downstairs!”

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Samantha Bellerose has a Bachelor of Education as well as a Diploma in Performing Arts. She is a mom to four children and is passionate about education and learning. Samantha created Nursery Rhyme Central as the go to place for parents, teachers and carers about all things to do with Nursery Rhymes. She is also the Main Author and creator for websites Dance Parent 101 and Move Dance Learn, where she shares her knowledge and expertise for dance and learning through movement.

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