Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Lear, Lear, the Gang's All Here

I have, apparently, missed something, never having heard Edward Lear’s “The Owl and the Pussycat” as a child. My evidence? Everyone else in the universe, it seems, has recorded themselves reciting, reading, or singing this poem and posted the results on YouTube. Listen.

First, the poem as done by a Serious Poet, in a Serious Poet Voice;

Next, a rather bland animation of the poem done by someone whom, it appears, really had no idea:

Then there’s this happily singing fellow. I think this is the one I enjoy the most. He’s enjoying himself at least, not taking himself too seriously.

No one, oddly, has seen fit to record and then post themselves giving the same treatment to Lear’s Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly which, in my mind, ranks a bit higher on the nonsense poetry scale than the aforementioned Owl and Pussycat:

O! My aged Uncle Arly!
Sitting on a heap of Barley
      Thro' the silent hours of night,--
Close beside a leafy thicket:--
On his nose there was a Cricket,--
In his hat a Railway-Ticket;--
      (But his shoes were far too tight.)
Long ago, in youth, he squander'd
All his goods away, and wander'd
      To the Tiniskoop-hills afar.
There on golden sunsets blazing,
Every morning found him gazing,--
Singing -- "Orb! you're quite amazing!
      How I wonder what you are!"
Like the ancient Medes and Persians,
Always by his own exertions
      He subsisted on those hills;--
Whiles, -- by teaching children spelling,--
Or at times by merely yelling,--
Or at intervals by selling
      "Propter's Nicodemus Pills."
Later, in his morning rambles
He perceived the moving brambles--
      Something square and white disclose;--
"Twas a First-class Railway Ticket;
But, on stooping down to pick it
Off the ground, -- a pea-green Cricket
      settled on my uncle's Nose.
Never -- never more, -- Oh! never,
Did that Cricket leave him ever,--
      Dawn or evening, day or night;--
Clinging as a constant treasure,--
Chirping with a cheerious measure,--
Wholly to my uncle's pleasure
      (Though his shoes were far too tight.)
So for three-and-forty winters,
Till his shoes were worn to splinters,
      All those hills he wander'd o'er,--
Sometimes silent; -- sometimes yelling;--
Till he came to Borley-Melling,
Near his old ancestral dwelling;--
      (But his shoes were far too tight.)
On a little heap of Barley
Died my aged uncle Arly,
      And they buried him one night;--
Close beside the leafy thicket;--
There, -- his hat and Railway-Ticket;--
There, -- his ever-faithful Cricket;--
      (But his shoes were far too tight.) 

Lear, of course, is probably best known as the modern popularizer of the limerick, viz:

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared!
To Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.”

In fact, Lear is probably only second to this anonymous, yet much more familiar (at least to my ears) limerick popularizer:

Oh yeah. Good times.

No comments:

Post a Comment