Lear was born in Holloway, London in 1812. His father was a stockbroker
and he was brought up largely by his sister Ann. He spent his early years
first as a draughtsman for the Zoological Society, then as an artist for
the British Museum. In 1832 he was employed by the Earl of Derby to make
coloured drawings of the rare birds and animals in the menagerie at
Knowsley Hall. The Earl also allowed Lear the means to travel widely. He
published accounts of his trips to Italy (1846), Albania and Illyria
(1851), Calabria (1852), and Corsica (1870). He also visited the Holy Land
and Greece. He is chiefly remembered for his nonsense poetry, the first
volume of which was written for his patron's grandchildren in 1846 and was
simply entitled A Book of Nonsense. It contained Lear's favourite
poetic format, the limerick, and was illustrated throughout. His poetry
was henceforth marked by an air of ludicrous fantasy, as well as a unique
inventiveness. Since his death in 1888, appreciation of his artistic work,
the water-colours in particular, has risen. His real fame, however, was
secured by poems from Nonsense Songs (1871) such as 'The Owl and
the Pussy-cat' that you can read and listen here.
on PLAY to listen.
Pulsa en REPRODUCIR.
The Owl and the Pussy-cat
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to
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,
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,
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,
They danced by the light of the moon.
About this poem: Although other poets had attempted nonsense verse
before Edward Lear, his poetry really defined the genre. Perhaps the
most intriguing aspect of his work is the way the incongruity remains
fresh no matter how many times you read it. It's not that easy at all to
write nonsense that sticks in the mind.
wrapped up: envuelto (to
tarried: tardado, demorado
mince: picadillo, carne picada
slices of quince: trozos de membrillo
runcible spoon: especie de tenedor
on the edge: en el borde de
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