How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear

Song Cycle by Edwin Roxburgh (b. 1937)

Word count: 2742

1. How pleasant to know Mr. Lear [sung text not yet checked]

How pleasant to know Mr. Lear,
Who has written such volumes of stuff.
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few find him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious,
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous,
His beard it resembles a wig.

He has ears, and two eyes, and ten fingers,
(Leastways if you reckon two thumbs);
He used to be one of the singers,
But now he is one of the dumbs.

He sits in a beautiful parlour,
With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.

He has many friends, laymen and clerical,
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical,
He weareth a runcible hat.

When he walks in waterproof white,
The children run after him so!
Calling out, "He's gone out in his night-
Gown, that crazy old Englishman, oh!"

He weeps by the side of the ocean,
He weeps on the top of the hill;
He purchases pancakes and lotion,
And chocolate shrimps from the mill.

He reads, but he does not speak, Spanish,
He cannot abide ginger beer;
Ere the days of his pilgrimage vanish,
How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

2. The Owl and the Pussycat [sung text not yet checked]

I
The Owl and the Pussycat went to sea
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]1 you are, 
you are, 
you are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are."

II
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]2 the end of his nose, 
his nose, 
his nose,
With a ring [at]1 the end of his nose.

III
"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, 
the moon, 
the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Der Eul’ und die Miezekatz", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) [singable] (Dmitri Nikolaevich Smirnov) , "Совёнок и Кошечка", copyright © 1982, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Harmati: "puss"
2 Wilkinson: "in"

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Garrett Medlock [Guest Editor]

3. The Jumblies [sung text not yet checked]

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they went to sea:
In spite of all their friends could say.
On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,
In a Sieve they went to sea!
And when the Sieve turned round and round,
And everyone cried, "You'll all be drowned!"
They all called aloud, "Our Sieve ain't big,
"But we don't care a button! We don't care a fig!
"In a Sieve we'll go to sea!"
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.

They sailed away in a Sieve, they did,
In a Sieve they sailed so fast,
With only a beautiful pea-green veil
Tied with a riband by way of a sail,
To a small tobacco-pipe mast;
And every one said, who saw them go,
"O won't they be soon upset, you know!
"For the sky is dark, and the voyage is long,
"And happen what may, it's extremely wrong
"In a Sieve to sail so fast!"
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.

The water it soon came in, it did,
The water it soon came in;
So to keep them dry, they wrapped their feet
In a pinky paper all folded neat,
And they fastened it down with a pin.
And they passed the night in a crockery-jar,
And each of them said, "How wise we are!
"Though the sky be dark, and the voyage be long,
"Yet we never can think we were rash on wrong,
"While round in our Sieve we spin!"
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 all night long they sailed away;
And when the sun went down,
They whistled and warbled a moony song
To the echoing sound of a coppery gong,
In the shade of the mountains brown.
"O Timballo! How happy we are,
"When we live in a sieve and a crockery-jar.
"And all night long in the moonlight pale,
"In the shade of the mountains brown!"
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.

They sailed to the Western Sea, they did,
To a land all covered with trees,
And they bought an Owl, and a useful Cart,
And a pound of Rice, and a Cranberry Tart,
And a hive of silvery Bees.
And they bought a Pig, and some green Jackdaws,
And a lovely Monkey with lollipop paws,
And forty bottles of Ring-Bo-Ree,
And no end of Stilton Cheese.
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!
"For they've been to the Lakes, and the Terrible Zone,
"And the hills of the Chankly Bore,:
And they drank to their health, and gave them a feast
Of dumplings made of beautiful yeast;
And every one said, "If we only live,
"We too will go to sea in a Sieve, --
"To the hills of the Chankly Bore!"
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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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

4. Calico Pie [sung text not yet checked]

Calico Pie,
The little birds fly
Down to the calico tree,
Their wings were blue,
And they sang "Tilly-loo!"
Till away they flew,--
And they never came back to me!
They never came back!
They never came back!
They never came back to me!

Calico Jam,
The little Fish swam
Over the syllabub sea.
He took off his hat,
To the Sole and the Sprat,
And the Willeby-wat,--
But he never came back to me!
He never came back!
He never came back!
He never came back to me!

Calico Ban,
The little Mice ran,
To be ready in time for tea,
Flippity flup,
They drank it all up,
And danced in the cup,--
But they never came back to me!
They never came back!
They never came back!
They never came back to me!

Calico Drum,
The grasshoppers come,
The Butterfly, Beetle, and Bee,
Over the ground,
Around and round,
With a hop and a bound,--
But they never came back!
They never came back!
They never came back!
They never came back to me!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The dong with the luminous nose [sung text not yet checked]

When awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
  Through the long, long wintry nights; --
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;--
  When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore: --

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
  A lonely spark with silvery rays
  Piercing the coal-black night, --
  A Meteor strange and bright: --
Hither and thither the vision strays,
  A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,--pauses, -- creeeps, --
Anon it sparkles,--flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along, --
    'The Dong! -- the Dong!
  'The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
    'The Dong! the Dong!
  'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

    Long years ago
  The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
  Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,--
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
    Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
  And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang, --
    '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.'

Happily, happily passed those days!
    While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
  They danced in circlets all night long,
  To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
    In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing--gazing for evermore, --
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon, --
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill, --
    '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.'

But when the sun was low in the West,
  The Dong arose and said; --
-- 'What little sense I once possessed
  'Has quite gone out of my head!' --
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing -- 'O somewhere, in valley or plain
'Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
'For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
'Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!'

    Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
    Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
    And because by night he could not see,
    He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
      On the flowery plain that grows.
      And he wove him a wondrous Nose, --
    A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
    --In a hollow rounded space it ended
    With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
      All fenced about
      With a bandage stout
      To prevent the wind from blowing it out;--
    And with holes all round to send the light,
    In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild--all night he goes,--
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,--
    'This is the hour when forth he goes,
    'The Dong with a luminous Nose!
    'Yonder--over the plain he goes,
      'He goes!
      'He goes;
    'The Dong with a luminous Nose!'

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

6. Uncle Arly [sung text not yet checked]

I
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.)


II
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!"


III
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."


IV
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.


V
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.)


VI
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.)


VII
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.) 

Authorship

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The Akond of Swat [sung text not yet checked]

Who, or why, or which, or what, Is the Akond of SWAT?
Is he tall or short, or dark or fair?
Does he sit on a stool or a sofa or a chair,
                                     or SQUAT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?


Is he wise or foolish, young or old?
Does he drink his soup and his coffe cold,
                                     or HOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he sing or whistle, jabber or talk,
And when riding abroad does he gallop or walk
                                     or TROT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a turban, a fez, or a hat?
Does he sleep on a mattress, a bed, or a mat,
                                     or COT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

When he writes a copy in round-hand size,
Does he cross his T's and finish his I's
                                     with a DOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Can he write a letter concisely clear
Without a speck or a smudge or smear
                                     or BLOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Do his people like him extremely well?
Or do they, whenever they can, rebel,
                                     or PLOT,
                                     At the Akond of Swat?

If he catches them then, either old or young,
Does he have them chopped in pieces or hung,
                                     or shot,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Do his people prig in the lanes or park?
Or even at times, when days are dark,
                                     GAROTTE?
                                     O the Akond of Swat!

Does he study the wants of his own dominion?
Or doesn't he care for public opinion
                                     a JOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

To amuse his mind do his people show him
Pictures, or any one's last new poem,
                                     or WHAT,
                                     For the Akond of Swat?

At night if he suddenly screams and wakes,
Do they bring him only a few small cakes,
                                     or a LOT,
                                     For the Akond of Swat?

Does he live on turnips, tea, or tripe?
Does he like his shawl to be marked with a stripe,
                                     or a DOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he like to lie on his back in a boat
Like the lady who lived in that isle remote,
                                     SHALLOTT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Is he quiet, or always making a fuss?
Is his stewart a Swiss or a Swede or Russ,
                                     or a SCOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does like to sit by the calm blue wave?
Or to sleep and snore in a dark green cave,
                                     or a GROTT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he drink small beer from a silver jug?
Or a bowl? or a glass? or a cup? or a mug?
                                     or a POT.
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he beat his wife with a gold-topped pipe,
When she let the gooseberries grow too ripe,
                                     or ROT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he wear a white tie when he dines with friends,
And tie it neat in a bow with ends,
                                     or a KNOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he like new cream, and hate mince-pies?
When he looks at the sun does he wink his eyes,
                                     or NOT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Does he teach his subjects to roast and bake?
Does he sail about on an inland lake
                                     in a YACHT,
                                     The Akond of Swat?

Some one, or nobody, knows I wot
Who or which or why or what 
                                     Is the Akond of Swat!

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Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]