Conquest’s filthy limericks

August 5, 2015 at 1:37 am (Jim D, literature, poetry, stalinism, terror, USSR)

 Above: Robert Conquest with Aretha Franklin and Alan Greenspan

I’ve just heard the news of the death of Robert Conquest, historian, entertaining right-winger, debunker of liberal pro-Stalinist mythology, and master limerikician. I shall write more, in due course, about Conquest’s politics and his role as a historian. But, for now, let’s just enjoy his limericks …

… all of which brings me on to the true limerick – lewd, obscene and offensive – and the widely-acknowledged master of the genre, Robert Conquest. To the best of my knowledge, Conquest’s limericks have never been published in a proper collected edition, though several have appeared in his friend Kingsley Amis’s Memoirs and Collected Letters.

Here are some of the best:

A usage that’s seldom got right
Is when to say shit and when shite,
And many a chap
Will fall back on crap,
Which is vulgar, evasive, and trite.

Seven Ages: first puking and mewling
Then very pissed-off with your schooling
Then fucks, and then fights
Next judging chaps’ rights
Then sitting in slippers: then drooling.

There was a young fellow called Shit,
A name he disliked quite a bit,
So he changed it to Shite,
A step in the right
Direction, one has to admit.

That snobbish surrealist, Garsall,
Once did himself up in a parcel;
He addressed it ‘Lord Garsall,
The Keep, Garsall Castle’
And mailed it first-class up his arsehole.

There was old Scot named McTavish
Who went for an anthropoid ravish
But the object of rape was the wrong sex of ape
So the anthropoid ravished McTavish

Possibly my favourite, entitled AT THE ZOO:

There was plenty of good-natured chaff
When I popped in to fuck the giraffe,
And the PRZS
Could hardly suppress
A dry professorial laugh.

Kingsley Amis wrote a follow-up:

When I came back to roger the gnu
I was scarcely delayed coming through,
and the staff – most polite –
cried, “please stay overnight”,
it’s a priviledge granted to few.


  1. kb72 said,

    You covered this topic in depth before, Mr D:-

    Just repeating my comment under there:-

    When the Earl took out his bloody great tool at tea,
    To do the pageboy wrong,
    The Chaplain cried obsequiously,
    “How long, oh lord, how long.”

    Kingsley Amis called Conquest “a kind of advertisement for life”. Conquest is the last of that generation that overlaps with Clive James, now barely hanging on to his twig.

    Are there actual “generations” any more?

  2. Jim Denham said,

    Francis Wheen has contacted me via Facebook to say:

    But how could you of all people omit his limerick titled “Progress”?
    There was a great Marxist named Lenin,
    Who did two or three million men in.
    That’s a lot to have done in,
    But where he did one in
    That grand Marxist Stalin did ten in.

    • Glasgow Working Class said,

      What a coincidence Jim. I opened up his book on Marx last night just to check something.

  3. tm1 said,

    This is another of Conquest’s, which appears in slightly less pointed form (“little Sophie”) in Amis’s memoirs:

    The first man to fuck Brigid Brophy
    Was awarded the Krafft-Ebing Trophy
    Plus ten thousand quid,
    Which, for what the chap did,
    Will be widely accounted a low fee.

  4. Steven Johnston said,

    The joys of a public school education 😉
    I loved the book, The Egyptologists, that he co-wrote with Amis.
    An hilarious farce and you almost believe they could have gotten away it.

    • Jim Denham said,

      We finally agree on something, Steven!

      • Steven Johnston said,

        Wonders will never cease, though it has been hard here recently as I thought I’d logged onto the Daily Wail website.

      • Glasgow Working Class said,

        Steven just because some oppose Islamic fascists and their fellow travellers does not make us Daily Mail readers!

  5. Steven Johnston said,

    I hate clerical and political fascism but I felt that with some of the posts, especially regarding Corbyn, that 2 + 2 = 64!
    I also dislike Corbyn and all he stands for too.
    But I was thrown by the comments about the immigrant African children causing problems in the UK.

  6. Timothy Marshal-Nichols said,

    Jim from the AWL
    Was sent to hell
    The devil in such a fury
    On seeing the hateful Tory
    Farted the foulest smell

    Jim loved Robert Conquest
    Thought he was the best
    Both were shits
    Mindless fuckwits
    Who did you more detest?

  7. Steven Johnston said,

    There was shirazsocialist hater
    Who to a muslim cleric said hey mate’r
    Of fascism of the political kind no fan am I
    But of the clerical sort, well unzip your fly

    For to him Islamic dick was a hit
    He’d bend over for Halal,
    But of kosher he was no pal
    But the zionist type he thought was shit

  8. Bilious said,

    The Commenters efforts show how good Robert Conquest was!:

    • Cass Dean said,

      .Conquest was not a historian; he never even studied history after prep school. It was not required in his profession. His only pedagogic venture was a year as poet in residence, all he was qualified for.

      When he moved out of the office to see if he could generate a wider audience than the kept press and embassy lobbies where his work for MI6 was usually distributed, he adopted free-lance writer as a cover, but he didn’t write much of what he signed his name to, so the limericks were sort of a psychic balancing act.

      OUN gave him a $80k retainer to write Harvest of Sorrow and then filled the first two hundred pages with essays by his sponsors, obviously a bunch of different voices, doing classic academic nit-picking about their tiny differences of approach to nation worship and surzhyk.

  9. 'J' said,

    But whether I climb in the Tyrol
    Or walk the Green lanes of the Wirral
    No giraffe or gnu
    Give me such a great screw
    As a plump duct-tape-encased squirrel

    (Gizza job)

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