Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Edward Lear

I’m in a bit of a nonsense mood and in the humor for nonsense poetry. “The Owl and the Pussycat” is among my favorite nonsense poems, though I feel the terminology does injustice to such a well-wrought little piece of verse. I used to read the lovely, Jan Brett-illustrated The Owl and the Pussycat to my little brother when he was a baby. It was my favorite of his picture books.

Edward Lear himself suffered from severe and debilitating episodes of epilepsy and was prone to lifelong periods of intense depression that he deemed “the morbids.” During his lifetime, he was primarily known as a travel artist (despite partial blindness) and all-around eccentric fellow. Despite this, he remains the only author I know who wrote a paean to inter-species love now considered appropriate literature for young children. But you’ll understand why if you know the poem, or if you read it following the cut.

The Owl and the Pussycat
The Owl and the Pussy-Cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat:
They took some honey, and plenty of money
   Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
   And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
   What a beautiful Pussy you are,
             You are,
             You are!
  What a beautiful Pussy you are!"

Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl,
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
Oh! let us be married; too long we have tarried,
   But what shall we do for a ring?"
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
   To the land where the bong-tree grows;
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood,
   With a ring at the end of his nose,
            His nose,
            His nose,
   With a ring at the end of his nose.

"Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
   Your ring?" Said the Piggy, "I will."
So they took it away, and were married next day
   By the turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince and slices of quince,
   Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
   They danced by the light of the moon,
            The moon,
            The moon,
   They danced by the light of the moon.

Edward Lear on Wikipedia

Edward Lear on Poets.org

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