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A tumble rhyme or shuttle rhyme (Schüttelreim in German) is verse rhymed in spoonerisms. The form is popular in Germany but little-known elsewhere. This is one of two sites on the web with tumble rhymes in English. The other is hosted by Boris Hasselblatt. Further down this page there is a sample of five by Boris, from whom I learned about shuttle rhyming. Also on this page are some by Ben Cottrell, as well as three by Phyllis Smith which she says I helped her with. Phyllis is the unchallenged master of this form in English. There are a lot more of hers on this site's contributors' page. For a sample German site, with links to some of the others, try Jo Proepper's Schuettelreime.

Tumble Rhymes

mostly by me (

Rembrandt "Christ and the Adulteress" 1644

Are any innocent? Then throw your stones!
(You bigots know where you can stow your thrones.)

Ingres "The Turkish Bath" 1862

A veiled suggestion of lewd nooks
pervades their classical nude looks.

Caillebotte "Paris: A Rainy Day" 1877

Perspective makes the rarest pain-
ting out of mist and Paris rain.

Leonardo da Vinci "Leda and the Swan" c.1510

The lady, ripely sweet and fond,
was trod by Jove's webbed feet, and swanned.

Wright Barker "Circe"

I hardly need to list her dire
effects on those who dissed her lyre.

Charles Edward Boutibonne "Sirens"

The smile was self-assured--the lips
had ample charm, and lured the ships.

Titian "Urbino Venus" 1538

She would calmly leave her finger
where it made the fever linger.

Would You Prefer Norman Rockwell?

The Titian is, in candor, porn.
So what should I pander, corn?

Edoard Manet "Olympia" 1863

The pillows were a milky sight
on which lay gold, and silken might.

William Waterhouse "Hylas and the Nymphs"

He's clearly peerless as a fool to be so fearless at the pool.

Jan van Eyck "The Arnolfini Marriage Portrait" 1434

The Oxfud man said: "Awnul Finny did look like an awful ninny!"

Renoir "The Boater's Luncheon" 1881

With wine and sunlight blessed, and room
to stretch at ease, they rest and bloom.

Ingres "Bather" 1808

Her lines are fresh as flute
sounds. Fine, her flesh, as fruit.

Dr. Spooner on Accidental Metathesis

I'm not that hermetical,
just metathetical.

The Opinion of the Marquis de Sade Concerning Tight Straps

A silken thigh that leather nips
is home to swelling nether lips.

A Fashion Statement from the Marquis de Sade

The dress should have some handy rips
through which to stroke her randy hips.

The Marquis Escapes Divine Retribution

He bounds from Hades in a leap
to sport with ladies, in a heap.

Above copyright © 1998 Leonard Cottrell

by Phyllis Smith:


When Sistine mist would muss the plaster,
Paint was called for, plus the Master:
"Fetch the pots of ceiling paint
And fix that spot of peeling saint!"


She baked a noble flan, the fame
of which we fan the flame,
and you must not defame her flans:
such rudeness would inflame her fans.


When management's high-status male
begins to find his mate is stale,
the thought distracts him, as lust may,
of secretaries he must lay.
I know it isn't very nice,
but it's an ordinary vice.

There are lots more by Phyllis on the contributor's page.

Here are some by Ben, who also has more on the contributor's page.


Lara packs
a parallax
Her lover
stole her


Du bist


When chainsaws roar and brambles shake
And nature into shambles break,
Is this done for your sake, or me?
The forest's trees are numberless
But I'm afraid their lumber-ness
Is all the paper makers see.


With kung fu, slay
This vile souffle.

For rhymes in German, try Jo Proepper's Schuettelreime site. Here are five by Boris Hasselblatt, who has a shuttle rhymesite, and from whom I learned about the form:

The Pragmatist

Though I prefer to teach through reason
some students one can reach through teasin'.

Fruits of Experience

The expedition (polar) soured
because the gear was solar powered.

Georges Seurat "The Circus"

May melancholy curse us
if we don't love "The Circus".


The mafiosi gave us
the theme park that's Las Vegas.

Advice for Outlaws

Go lie
low, guy.

For regular (not spooneristic) poetry and verse translation, try the Monadnock Review. If you have a favorite snatch of verse, consider glancing at this site's snatch anthology to see if it is there--if not suggest it for inclusion.