There was an Old Derry down Derry Please note that these pages are no longer being updated and their content is being transferred to the Blog of Boshto which many links here now point.
And that was the end of Solomon Grundy. Until Surrealism made a deliberate raid on the unconscious, poetry that aimed at being nonsense, apart from the meaningless refrains of songs, does not seem to have been common. This gives a special position to Edward Lear, whose nonsense rhymes have just been edited by Mr R.
Megroz, 1 who was also responsible for the Penguin edition a year or two before the war. Lear was one of the first writers to deal in pure fantasy, with imaginary countries and made-up words, without any satirical purpose.
His poems are not all of them equally nonsensical; some of them get their effect by a perversion of logic, but they are all alike in that their underlying feeling is sad and not bitter. They express a kind of amiable lunacy, Essays on edward lear and nonsense natural sympathy with whatever is weak and absurd.
Lear could fairly be called the originator of the limerick, though verses in almost the same metrical form are to be found in earlier writers, and what is sometimes considered a weakness in his limericks -- that is, the fact that the rhyme is the same in the first and last lines -- is part of their charm.
The very slight change increases the impression of ineffectuality, which might be spoiled if there were some striking surprise. 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.
It is significant that almost no limericks since Lear's have been both printable and funny enough to seem worth quoting. Two old chairs, and half a candle-- One old jug without a handle-- These were all his worldly goods: Later there appears a lady with some white Dorking hens, and an inconclusive love affair follows.
Mr Megroz thinks, plausibly enough, that this may refer to some incident in Lear's own life.
He never married, and it is easy to guess that there was something seriously wrong in his sex life. A psychiatrist could no doubt find all kinds of significance in his drawings and in the recurrence of certain made-up words such as "runcible".
His health was bad, and as he was the youngest of twenty-one children in a poor family, he must have known anxiety and hardship in very early life. It is clear that he was unhappy and by nature solitary, in spite of having good friends. Aldous Huxley, in praising Lear's fantasies as a sort of assertion of freedom, has pointed out that the "They" of the limericks represent common sense, legality and the duller virtues generally.
To smash somebody just for dancing a quadrille with a raven is exactly the kind of thing that "They" would do. Herbert Read has also praised Lear, and is inclined to prefer his verse to that of Lewis Carroll, as being purer fantasy.
For myself, I must say that I find Lear funniest when he is least arbitrary and when a touch of burlesque or perverted logic makes its appearance.
When he gives his fancy free play, as in his imaginary names, or in things like "Three Receipts for Domestic Cookery", he can be silly and tiresome.
The Pobble, it may be remembered, went fishing in the Bristol Channel: What is arbitrary -- the word "runcible", and the cat's crimson whiskers -- is merely rather embarrassing.
While the Pobble was in the water some unidentified creatures came and ate his toes off, and when he got home his aunt remarked: For the whole theory of authoritarian governments is summed up in the statement that Pobbles were happier without their toes.
So also with the well-known limerick: There was an Old Person of Basing, Whose presence of mind was amazing; He purchased a steed, Which he rode at full speed, And escaped from the people of Basing.
It is not quite arbitrary. The funniness is in the gentle implied criticism of the people of Basing, who once again are "They", the respectable ones, the right-thinking, art-hating majority.
Since then, as Mr Megroz points out in his Introduction, Lear's influence has been considerable, but it is hard to believe that it has been altogether good. The silly whimsiness of present-day children's books could perhaps be partly traced back to sense, though it came off in Lear's case, is a doubtful one.
Probably the best nonsense poetry is produced gradually and accidentally, by communities rather than by individuals.Nonsense Is Defined by Its Inability to be Defined Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear's Alice in Wonderland Yet one of the greatest paradoxes is the transformation of Alice over the course of the novel as well as the transformation of the duchess.
Free Essays words ( pages) Nonsense Is Defined by Its Inability to be Defined Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear's Alice in Wonderland Yet one of the greatest paradoxes is the transformation of Alice over the course of the novel as well as the transformation of the duchess.
Edward Lear (12 May – 29 January ) was an English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet, and is known now mostly for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form he popularised.
Edward Lear's Life and Works, Nonsense Poems and Limericks.
There was an Old Derry down Derry Edward Lear's Nonsense Poetry and Art: Table of contents. who informs me that some copies of the "Poems and Essays in Honour of Edward Lear" published in are still available.
These texts are Edward Lear’s Book of Nonsense and the poem by Carroll Lewis, titled Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Search for Order in the Disorder Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are.
The Sense Beneath Edward Lear’s Nonsense For the artist, parody was a vehicle for the renewal of feeling. By Adam Gopnik. For much of his life, Edward Lear was best known as a landscape painter.