by Beatrice Curtis Brown (1901-1974)
When Jonathan Bing was young, they say,
He slipped his school and ran away;
Sat in the meadow and twiddled his thumbs
And never learnt spelling or grammar or sums.
So now if you tell him, “Add one to two”,
“Explain what you mean,” he’ll answer you,
“Do you mean 2-morrow or that’s 2 bad?
And what sort of 1 do you want me to add?
“For there’s 1 that was first when the race was 1,
(For he ran 2 fast for the rest to run).
But if 2 had 1 when the race was through,
I’d say your answer was 1 by 2.”
“Oh Jonathan Bing, you haven’t the trick
Of doing a sum in arithmetic.”
“Oh give me a chance, just one more try,”
Says Jonathan Bing with a tear in his eye.
“Very well, Jonathan, try once more,
Add up a hundred and seventy-four.”
“A hundred, and seventy-four,” says he,
“Why — that’s a great age for a person to be!”
Says Becky from Poetry Friday: "from my ragged old copy of the Arrow Book of Funny Poems, collected by Eleanor Clymer (Scholastic, 1961), originally published in Jonathan Bing and Other Poems, 1936."