Guide The Complete Collection of Nonsense Poems

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It occurred to him to try to turn his infant talents to account; and he painted upon cardboard a couple of birds in the style which the older among us remember as having been called Oriental tinting, took them to a small shop, and sold them for fourpence. Many of the birds in the earlier volumes of Gould's magnificent folios were drawn for him by Lear. He united with this kind of work the more unpleasant occupation of drawing the curiosities of disease or deformity in hospitals. The successive Earls of Derby have been among Lear's kindest and most generous patrons.

He went to Knowsley, and the drawings in the "Knowsley Menagerie" now a rare and highly-prized work among book collectors are by Lear's hand. At Knowsley he became a permanent favorite; and it was there that he composed in prolific succession his charming and wonderful series of utterly nonsensical rhymes and drawings.

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Lear had already begun seriously to study landscape. It was in the Roman summers that Lear first began to exercise the taste for pictorial wandering which grew into a habit and a passion, to fill vivid and copious note-books as he went, and to illustrate them by spirited and accurate drawings; and his first volume of "Illustrated Excursions in Italy," published in , is gratefully dedicated to his Knowsley patron.

Only those who have travelled with him could know what a delightful comrade he was to men whose tastes ran more or less parallel to his own. It was not everybody who could travel with him; for he was so irrepressibly anxious not to lose a moment of the time at his disposal for gathering into his garners the beauty and interest of the lands over which he journeyed, that he was careless of comfort and health.

He read insatiably before starting all the recognized guide-books and histories of the country he intended to draw; and his published itineraries are marked by great strength and literary interest quite irrespectively of the illustrations. And he had his reward. It is not any ordinary journalist and sketcher who could have compelled from Tennyson such a tribute as lines "To E.

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Nonsense verse | poetry | Britannica

After settling at San Remo, and when he was nearly sixty years old, he determined to visit India and Ceylon. He started once and failed, being taken so ill at Suez that he was obliged to return. The next year he succeeded, and brought away some thousands of drawings of the most striking views from all three Presidencies and from the tropical island.

His appetite for travel continued to grow with what it fed upon; and although he hated a long sea-voyage, he used seriously to contemplate as possible a visit to relations in New Zealand. It may safely, however, be averred that no considerations would have tempted him to visit the Arctic regions. Among the writers who have striven with varying success during the last thirty or forty years to awaken the merriment of the "rising generation" of the time being, Mr. Edward Lear occupies the first place in seniority, if not in merit.

The parent of modern nonsense-writers, he is distinguished from all his followers and imitators by the superior consistency with which he has adhered to his aim,—that of amusing his readers by fantastic absurdities, as void of vulgarity or cynicism as they are incapable of being made to harbor any symbolical meaning.

He "never deviates into sense;" but those who appreciate him never feel the need of such deviation. He has a genius for coining absurd names and words, which, even when they are suggested by the exigencies of his metre, have a ludicrous appropriateness to the matter in hand. His verse is, with the exception of a certain number of cockney rhymes, wonderfully flowing and even melodious—or, as he would say, meloobious — while to all these qualifications for his task must finally be added the happy gift of pictorial expression, enabling him to double, nay, often to quadruple, the laughable effect of his text by an inexhaustible profusion of the quaintest designs.

Generally speaking, these designs are, as it were, an idealization of the efforts of a clever child; but now and then—as in the case of the nonsense-botany—Mr. Lear reminds us what a genuine and graceful artist he really is.

What a load of nonsense!

The advantage to a humorist of being able to illustrate his own text has been shown in the case of Thackeray and Mr. Gilbert, to mention two familiar examples; but in no other instance of such a combination have we discovered such geniality as is to be found in the nonsense-pictures of Mr. We have spoken above of the melodiousness of Mr. Lear's verses, a quality which renders them excellently suitable for musical setting, and which has not escaped the notice of the author himself. We have also heard effective arrangements, presumably by other composers, of the adventures of the Table and the Chair, and of the cruise of the Owl and the Pussy-cat,—the latter introduced into the "drawing-room entertainment" of one of the followers of John Parry.

Indeed, in these days of adaptations, it is to be wondered at that no enterprising librettist has attempted to build a children's comic opera out of the materials supplied in the four books with which we are now concerned. The first of these, originally published in , and brought out in an enlarged form in , is exclusively devoted to nonsense-verses of one type. 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.

Nonsense verse

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.

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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.


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Lear's absurd creations. So again in the Pelican chorus there are some charming lines:—.

Five Books From Edward Lear

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.


  1. The complete nonsense of Edward Lear!
  2. Essai sur la nature du commerce en général (French Edition).
  3. Limericks, Lear and Nonsense.
  4. Reflets (French Edition);
  5. 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? There was an Old Derry down Derry, who loved to see little folks merry; So he made them a Book, and with laughter they shook At the fun of that Derry down Derry. There was an Old Man with a nose, Who said, "If you choose to suppose That my nose is too long, you are certainly wrong! You incongruous Old Woman of Smyrna! There was an Old Man of Columbia, Who was thirsty, and called out for some beer; But they brought it quite hot, in a small copper pot, Which disgusted that man of Columbia. There was an Old Lady of Chertsey, Who made a remarkable curtsey; She twirled round and round, till she sank underground, Which distressed all the people of Chertsey.

    There was a Young Lady whose chin Resembled the point of a pin; So she had it made sharp, and purchased a harp, And played several tunes with her chin. There was an Old Man with a flute,— A "sarpint" ran into his boot! But he played day and night, till the "sarpint" took flight, And avoided that Man with a flute. There was a Young Lady of Portugal, Whose ideas were excessively nautical; She climbed up a tree to examine the sea, But declared she would never leave Portugal.

    There was an Old Man in a boat, Who said, "I'm afloat! I'm afloat!