The Owl and the Pussycat Edward Lear


  • The Owl and the Pussycat

    The Owl and the Pussycat 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.
    O 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.


Happy Birthday Edward Lear!

Celebrating the bicentenary of ‘nonsense poet and artist’ Edward Lear this weekend, BBC Radio 3 has run a series of shows this week “How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear” (now on BBC iPlayer for a few more days). The narrator introduces the series of ‘Essays’ on him as examining The exuberant play of Lear as a nonsense poet and artist and the influence of nonsense on modern life” (Nonsense as in embracing the failure to make any sense)…

  • “Lear was a genius at making words sound like language, but not quite language as we know it. Lear opens the door to James Joyce and all the gobbledygook of Finnegan’s Wake modernity. Aldous Huxley summed the nonsensical impulse in Lear’s poetry as an assertion of man’s spiritual freedom. ‘As long as it remains possible for the human mind to invent the quangle-wrangle and the thimblefowl, to wander at will over the great Grombulian plain and the hills of the Chankleyboor, the victory…is ours.’”

Lear was also for overcoming adversity. He suffered from epilepsy from an early age which has personal resonance in the Lynn household now that Lori has recently started as Communication Therapist for the UK Epilepsy Society.

Perhaps the most famous of Lear’s work and the most nonsensical of the poetic genre is the limerick. And so I leave you with one of Lear’s with a whimsical slant on a topic explored here regularly, Doubt (embracing failure of certainty)…

  • “There was an Old Person of Burton,
    Whose answers were rather uncertain;
    When they said, ‘How d’ye do?’
    He replied, ‘Who are you?’”