I can sizzle like bacon,
I am made with an egg,
I have plenty of backbone, but lack a good leg,
I peel layers like onions, but still remain whole,
I can be long, like a flagpole, yet fit in a hole.
What am I?
Four jolly men sat down to play,
and played all night till break of day.
They played for gold and not for fun,
with separate scores for every one.
Yet when they came to square accounts,
they all had made quite fair amounts!
Can you the paradox explain?
If no one lost, how could all gain?
As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives
The seven wives had seven sacks
The seven sacks had seven cats
The seven cats had seven kits
Kits, cats, sacks and wives
How many were going to St. Ives?
One person is going to St. Ives (the narrator). Because the narrator "met" all of the others mentioned in the poem, this implies that they walked past each other in opposite directions, and thus none of the wives, sacks, cats, or kits was actually headed to St. Ives.
If you (like many) think this answer is a bit silly, you can assume that all the people, sacks, and animals mentioned were heading for St. Ives. In this case, we would have 1 narrator + 1 man + 7 wives + 49 sacks + 343 cats + 2401 kits = 2802 total going to St. Ives. However, this isn't the traditional answer.
What does man love more than life,
Fear more than death or mortal strife.
What the poor have, the rich require,
and what contented men desire.
What the miser spends and the spendthrift saves,
And all men carry to their graves?