Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Glory of Nonsense

Day 10 of Poetry Month

You've no doubt read The Owl and the Pussycat and you've likely read The Jumblies as well, but have you jumped whole-heartedly into Edward Lear's nonsense verse? In the mid-19th Century, he popularized the limerick and combined verse with cartoonish art in a way that still makes me swoon. The best way to read the poems is in the context of Lear's own art (click images to enlarge):

--Edward Lear

from A Book of Nonsense by Edward Lear. originally published in 1846.

Note: A Book of Nonsense was first published in 1846 but exists in multiple editions and reprints. Most libraries should have at least one version of it. I am currently looking at a 1981 facsimile reprint of the Frederick Warne edition that's held by the Osborne Collection. I also have a selected edition in front of me that was published by J. M. Dent and Sons in 1980.

(Note: when quoting poems online, always include a full citation for the collection from which the poem originated. If the poem is not in the public domain (i.e. is still in copyright) abide by the principle of Fair Dealing in your use of the work.)


  1. The New Yorker owes a large debt to Lear, I think.

  2. Love the pointy chin! I've never heard (nor seen) that one.

  3. I am going to look for this one in the library. It looks really funny. C would like this for sure. (Btw, the winning books for him so far have been the Flat Stanley books).

  4. I have one of these books, except mine has a red cover.. I've never seen mine anywhere else. What do you think its worth?

  5. Hi anonymous,
    I'm not in the business of book appraisal. You might want to check or to see what book dealers are trying to sell editions like yours for.


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