Lear is careful to disclaim the credit of having created this type, for he tells us in the preface to his third book that "the lines beginning, 'There was an old man of Tobago,' were suggested to me by a valued friend, as a form of verse leading itself to limitless variety for Rhymes and Pictures. Lear's Protean powers as exhibited in the variation of this simple type.
Here, to begin with, is a favorite verse, which we are very glad to have an opportunity of giving, as it is often incorrectly quoted, "cocks" being substituted for "owls" in the third line:. With the kindly fatalism which is the distinctive note of the foregoing stanza, the sentiment of our next extract is in vivid contrast:—. It's a regular brute of a Bee. To the foregoing verse an historic interest attaches, if, that is, we are right in supposing it to have inspired Mr.
Gilbert with his famous "Nonsense-Rhyme in Blank Verse. Bees, Who was stung in the arm by a wasp. When they asked, 'Does it hurt? Far and few, far and few, Are the lands where the Jumblies live. Their heads are green, and their hands are blue, And they went to sea in a sieve. And in twenty years they all came back, In twenty years or more, And every one said, 'How tall they've grown! From the pedestrian excursion of the Table and the Chair , we cannot resist making a brief quotation, though in this, as in every case, the inability to quote the drawings also is a sad drawback:—.
And everybody cried, As they hastened to their side, 'See, the Table and the Chair Have come out to take the air! Let us dine on Beans and Bacon! Besides that it was bordered by evanescent isthmuses with a great Gulf-Stream running about all over it, so that it was perfectly beautiful, and contained only a single tree, five hundred and three feet high.
Each of these blue bottles contained a bluebottlefly, and all these interesting animals live continually together in the most copious and rural harmony, nor perhaps in many parts of the world is such perfect and abject happiness to be found. So remarkable a sight of course impressed the four children very deeply; and they returned immediately to their boat with a strong sense of undeveloped asthma and a great appetite.
In his third book, Mr. Lear takes occasion in an entertaining preface to repudiate the charge of harboring any ulterior motive beyond that of "Nonsense pure and absolute" in any of his verses or pictures, and tells a delightful anecdote illustrative of the "persistently absurd report" that the Earl of Derby was the author of the first book of "Nonsense. It is to be remarked that the third division is styled " Twenty-Six Nonsense Rhymes and Pictures ," although there is no more rhyme than reason in any of the set. Our favorite illustrations are those of the " Scroobious Snake who always wore a Hat on his Head, for fear he should bite anybody ," and the " Visibly Vicious Vulture who wrote some Verses to a Veal-cutlet in a Volume bound in Vellum.
Lear's books, we meet not only with familiar words, but personages and places,—old friends like the Jumblies , the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo , the Quangle Wangle , the hills of the Chankly Bore , and the great Gromboolian plain , as well as new creations, such as the Dong with a luminous Nose , whose story is a sort of nonsense version of the love of Nausicaa for Ulysses , only that the sexes are inverted. In these verses, graceful fancy is so subtly interwoven with nonsense as almost to beguile us into feeling a real interest in Mr.
Lear's absurd creations. So again in the Pelican chorus there are some charming lines:—. And when the sun sinks slowly down, And the great rock-walls grow dark and brown, When the purple river rolls fast and dim, And the ivory Ibis starlike skim, Wing to wing we dance around," etc. The other nonsense-poems are all good, but we have no space for further quotation, and will take leave of our subject by propounding the following set of examination questions which a friend who is deeply versed in Mr.
Lear's books has drawn up for us:—. What do you gather from a study of Mr.
Lear's works to have been the prevalent characteristics of the inhabitants of Gretna, Prague, Thermopylae, Wick, and Hong Kong? State briefly what historical events are connected with Ischia, Chertsey, Whitehaven, Boulak, and Jellibolee.
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Comment, with illustrations, upon Mr. Lear's use of the following words: Runcible, propitious, dolomphious, borascible, fizzgiggious, himmeltanious, tumble-dum-down, spongetaneous. Enumerate accurately all the animals who lived on the Quangle Wangle's Hat, and explain how the Quangle Wangle was enabled at once to enlighten his five travelling companions as to the true nature of the Co-operative Cauliflower. What were the names of the five daughters of the Old Person of China, and what was the purpose for which the Old Man of the Dargle purchased six barrels of Gargle? Collect notices of King Xerxes in Mr.
Lear's works, and state your theory, if you have any, as to the character and appearance of Nupiter Piffkin. Draw pictures of the Plum-pudding flea, and the Moppsikon Floppsikon Bear, and state by whom waterproof tubs were first used. What bearing may we assume the foregoing couplet to have upon Mr. Lear's political views?
1. Life: 1844–1900
With all the Original Illustrations. Lear " Introduction I. A Book of Nonsense. Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets. More Nonsense Pictures, Rhymes, Botany, etc. Laughable Lyrics. Surely the most beneficent and innocent of all books yet produced is the "Book of Nonsense," with its corollary carols, inimitable and refreshing, and perfect in rhythm.
I really don't know any author to whom I am half so grateful for my idle self as Edward Lear. I shall put him first of my hundred authors. A hard-working life, checkered by the odd adventures which happen to the odd and the adventurous and pass over the commonplace; a career brightened by the high appreciation of unimpeachable critics; lightened, till of late, by the pleasant society and good wishes of innumerable friends; saddened by the growing pressure of ill health and solitude; cheered by his constant trust in the love and sympathy of those who knew him best, however far away,—such was the life of Edward Lear.
Here, to begin with, is a favorite verse, which we are very glad to have an opportunity of giving, as it is often incorrectly quoted, "cocks" being substituted for "owls" in the third line: There was an Old Man with a beard, Who said, 'It is just as I feared!
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No less than three people are "smashed,"—the Old Man of Whitehaven "who danced a quadrille with a Raven;" the Old Person of Buda ; and the Old Man with a gong "who bumped at it all the day long," though in the last-named case we admit that there was considerable provocation.
Before quitting the first "Nonsense-Book," we would point out that it contains one or two forms that are interesting; for instance, " scroobious ," which we take to be a Portmanteau word, and " spickle-speckled ," a favorite form of reduplication with Mr.
Lear, and of which the best specimen occurs in his last book, " He tinkledy-binkledy-winkled the bell. Lear in the maturity of sweet desipience, and will perhaps remain the favorite volume of the four to grown-up readers. The nonsense-songs are all good, and " The Story of the Four little Children who went Round the World " is the most exquisite piece of imaginative absurdity that the present writer is acquainted with. But before coming to that, let us quote a few lines from " The Jumblies ," who, as all the world knows, went to sea in a sieve:— "They sailed to the Western Sea, they did, To a land all covered with trees.
So again in the Pelican chorus there are some charming lines:— "By day we fish, and at eve we stand On long bare islands of yellow sand. Lear's books has drawn up for us:— 1. There was an Old Man who said, "Well! And Mrs. Discobbolos Mr. She writes frankly about her own frustrations, longings, and heartbreaks, but she also recognizes the suffering of others—their secret grievances and griefs. The daily working world is here in full measure. It heartens me to welcome this fiery and fervent book, this wet collection, into the world.
The poems are beautifully crafted narratives of loss, travel, and salvage. There is a damaged family at the heart of these poems, an abandoned farm, and many rooms, parks, and train cars in far places. Rosemary Willey cannot keep her mind off the real things of this world, touching life where it feels good and where it pains, always snapping the chanced wishbone, and we are more blessed and richer for her daring talent.
Melancholy and loss, the missing of a gone mother, passion and solitude—stirringly well mixed in one potent brew of a book.