Richard Armour

Some years ago I came across a poem by Richard Armour in a book that was a collection of quotes and poems about home and family. I just loved his poem — it was both sweet and funny. I began to research to try to find out more about Amour and to find the book this poem came from. It turns out he was a prolific writer who used to have a newspaper column called “Armour’s Armory.” He’s written about home and family, history, Shakespeare, and a lot of other topics. Unfortunately most of his books appear to be out of print, but fortunately you can find many at amazon.com for a dollar or two plus shipping. I ordered three in order to try and find this poem (plus one book on a different topic, Going Like Sixty. No, I wont be sixty for a while yet, but thought this book would be funny, and wanted to get it while it is available).

I did finally find the poem I was seeking in The Spouse in the House. The book jacket calls his verse “playful” and “human as well as humorous.”

Here’s the poem that first intrigued me and started my search:

Teamwork

A splendid team, my wife and I:
She washes dishes, and I dry.
I sometimes pass her back a dish
To give another cleansing swish.
She sometimes holds up to the light
A glass I haven’t dried just right.
But mostly there is no complaint,
Or it is courteous and faint,
For I would never care to see
The washing job consigned to me,
And though the things I dry still drip,
She keeps me for companionship.

Here’s another:

Down the Tube

I’ve seen my wife with anger burn
At something that I never learn:
The toothpaste tube I squeeze and bend
At top and middle, not the end.

She scolds me, pointing out my error,
Makes use of scorn and taunts and terror,
But I forget and go on squeezing
The toothpaste tube in ways displeasing.

In larger things we are convivial:
What causes trouble is the trivial.

I’ve marked a few more, but I don’t want to bore you by going on too long. I’ll leave you with the last one in the book:

Well, Come In

You can have your Welcome mats.
I ask for just a little more
When I come home from work, and that’s
A Welcome mate inside my door.

That’s a bit convicting to me — too often I’m a distracted mate.

Of course, since as far as I can tell he is not a saved man, there might be some objectionable things in his writings. I haven’t found any yet beyond an occasional mention of alcohol, but I wanted to be careful with a disclaimer in case someone else finds something.

The book was such easy reading that I finished it in a few days and added it to my fall reading list in my side bar. I’m looking forward to reading the others I bought and probably even buying some more. Hope you enjoyed them, too — you might be seeing more quotes from Armour in the future. 🙂

28 thoughts on “Richard Armour

  1. Hi,
    i was wondering if you happened to know Richard Armour’s background information such as the name of his wife, or the name of his children.
    Thanks

    I really enjoyed the poems that you posted

  2. Whenever I had to memorize a poem in junior high, I checked a Richard Armour book out of the library. My favorite was a poem called (I think!) “Not On Wednesday Nights,” about a couple who won’t go out on Wednesdays because of a TV show they’ve become enamored with. The last line (I think!) says, “So ask us out to dinner, friends, but not on Wednesday nights.” Is it one of your books? I’ve been trying to remember that poem for years — imagine racking your brain since 1977. (I hope in the next life our memories are restored! My sister says she hopes they’re not!)

  3. Jeff, I know he had a wife and a son and daughter, but the biographical info. on the books I checked didn’t give their names.

    Shauna,

    I found the poem you mentioned in the book The Spouse in the House. Here it is:

    Never On Wednesday

    My wife and I can’t both be gone,
    Not Wednesday nights, at least,
    For then a TV show is on
    That I shall call “The Beast.”

    We’ve watched it now, week after week,
    With spellbound gaze we’ve looked,
    And, such the plotter’s shrewd technique,
    I must confess we’re hooked.

    Each episode unended ends,
    Suspense is at its height.
    So ask us out to dinner, friends,
    But not on Wednesday night.

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  5. Curious why people would be interested in his wife and children. Richard was my grandfather. Though we never called him Richard, for whatever reason my sister called him Gimp and that’s what stuck (seems very appropriate looking back). I was still pretty young when he passed… I think 10. His wife Kathleen just passed last year (2007) at the age of 101. Quite an amazing individual in her own right. My mom and her brother are still around too. Like I said, I didn’t know him well, but now that I’m an adult and familiar with his work I find great pleasure in knowing that his sense of humor has been passed down through our family. Sorry, but we’re a funny bunch! Anyway. I happened on this page and thought I’d share.

    • I am trying to get permission to reprint a poem by Richard Armour. I have his son’s name as Geoffrey S. Armour, but can’t find an address. Does anyone know who to contact for permission to reprint?

  6. Thanks so much for stopping by! I don’t know why the previous commenter was interested in family information, either, but thanks for giving us a bit of a window into your grandfather’s life. I do still enjoy his books very much.

  7. I spent time in Korea (1966, 502 MI Bn. Company C.) with Jeff. I haven’t talked to him since that time. I would love to be able to contact him. Any chance? Marc

  8. Thanks for posting the Richard Armour information. Just today something made me think of my memories of his distinct humor that I enjoyed when I discovered his books as a high school student in the 60s. I remember thinking I was quite “hip” for “getting” his humor.

    So I thought I would google and found your site. I will try to find some of his books as you suggested.

    —mcarter

  9. I remember an Armour poem about male reindeer getting hit by trains because they (the reindeer) thought the train’s whistle sounded like a female reindeer in heat. Anyone have a copy of that poem?

  10. My father was a friend of Richard Armour–I think they knew one another in Germany before WWII. I met Armour once, but I don’t remember much about him. However, when I was a child, we used to read his books and we laughed ourselves blue in gthe face over them. Every year, Armour would write my father a Christmas card and perhaps enclose a new book if there was one. I still have all these books, signed and with notes by Armour, along with the correspondence. Perhaps I will auction the materials on Ebay.

  11. I am looking for a poem by Richard Armour- I believe the title is “New Technique”. Can’t seem to find it anywhere. Can you help?

    • I have a copy of “New Technique” and am happy to share it here. Helen, if you still visit this website, I hope you enjoy the poem as well as the other readers here.

      Till here I am, at last, on top!
      With dizzy speed, with haste, chop-chop,
      Line over line, word over word,
      As swift as any soaring bird,
      And therefore up and up I go,
      Where writers do. Well, now I know,
      (How slowly, too) had they begun
      Imagine what they would have done
      Who built the ancient pyramid.
      Start at the bottom? So men did
      Used up in writing prose and rhyme.
      The precious months and years of time
      To think I might have cut in half
      And laugh a bitter little laugh
      Not having thought of this before,
      And famous now, I but deplore
      Is where men started who are rich
      I started at the bottom, which
      And with my eyes upon my goal,
      And so, with all my heart and soul,
      Should give this new technique a try,
      In need of time, I thought that I

      bottom of the paper and work up. – News item
      to the pen company’s research, the fastest way is to start from the
      work faster if he sees his goal – the top of the page. According
      cut writing time in half. The company theorizes that a person can
      A pen company reports that studies have shown a new way to

      Richard Armour
      New Technique

  12. looking for poem by richard armour on why commiting suicide is not easy. it is a satirical poe and the last line is “you might as well live

  13. The poem about suicide to which you refer was by the late great Dorothy Parker and is quoted here: http://rpo.library.utoronto.ca/poem/1558.html

    There is another poem that I believe was by Richard Armour that I’d love to find. It was titled something like, “The Singer’s Reward,” and I remember reading it in some newspaper’s Sunday magazine section, probably the Newark, N.J., News. The narrator dreamed that he had gone to Heaven and was in the celestial choir, and there were millions of sopranos, altos, and basses, but he was the *only* tenor. The conductor started the rehearsal then stopped it, and spoke the final line of the poem, the only one I remember: “Please, tenor section, not so loud!”

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  15. This is such a fascinating site. I had been trying fo find RA for years on the net. It seemed as if he had been blackballed or something. I could find nothing. Only last year when i tried again i began to find him on the net. Such a fantastic mind – to be able pun like that. He sustained a group of us in the late seventies when we were struggling to get rhopugh our college studies. I would read snatches of his books in between studies when i was taking a break. over here in india it would be virtualy impossible to findhisw books now. I feel like conducting a burglary raid on the library in the house i lived in (Alsq was there too) and STEAL his books – if they are sstill there!

  16. Hello; I, too, loved the humor of Richard Armour after I discovered him in college in the 70’s. I am looking for a poem, I think, was titled “California Here They Come”. Have you come across this? I have been unable to find it and came across your comments in a search for it. Any help you can give me would be greatly appreciated. Blessings and thanks to you. Theresa

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  18. Many moons ago I found a copy of a poem written by Richard Armour. I cut it out. It was in a magazine I believe. It’s about a cookbook. While going through papers etc to toss, shred, or file I found the small piece of paper with the poem on it. It’s titled I’ve Seen Every Kind of Cookbook But This One.

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