Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Poetry Wednesday, Vol. 85

The New Vestments

Edward Lear

There lived an old man in the Kingdom of Tess,
Who invented a purely original dress;
And when it was perfectly made and complete,
He opened the door, and walked into the street.
By way of a hat, he'd loaf of Brown Bread,
In the middle of which he inserted his head;-
His Shirt was made up of no end of dead Mice,
The warmth of whose skins was quite fluffy and nice;-
His Drawers were of Rabbit-skins; - so were his Shoes; -
His Stockings were skins, - but it is not known whose; -
His Waistcoat and Trowsers were made of Pork Chops; -
His Buttons were Jujubes, and Chocolate Drops; -
His Coat was all Pancakes with Jam for a border,
And a girdle of Biscuits to keep it in order;
And he wore over all, as a screen from bad weather,
A Cloak of green Cabbage-leaves stitched all together.

He had walked a short way, when he heard a great noise,
Of all sorts of Beasticles, Birdlings, and Boys; -
And from every long street and dark lane in the town
Beast, Birdles, and Boys in a tumult rushed down.
Two Cows and a half ate his Cabbage-leaf Cloak; -
Four Apes seized his Girdle, which vanished like smoke; -
Three Kids ate up half of his Pancaky Coat, -
And the tails were devour'd by an ancient He Goat; -
And army of Dogs in a twinkling tore up his
Pork Waistcoat and Trowsers to give to their Puppies; -
And while they were growling, and mumbling the Chops,
Ten Boys prigged the Jujubes and Chocolate Drops. -
He tried to run back to his house, but in vain,
For Scores of fat Pigs came again and again; -
They rushed out of stables and hovels and doors, -
They tore off his stockings, his shoes, and his drawers; -
And now from the housetops with screechings descend,
Striped, spotted, white, black, and gray Cats without end,
They jumped on his shoulders and knocked off his hat, -
When Crows, Ducks, and Hens made a mincemeat of that; -
They speedily flew at his sleeves in a trice,
And utterly tore up his Shirt of dead Mice; -
They swallowed the last of his Shirt with a squall, -
Whereon he ran home with no clothes on at all.

And he said to himself as he bolted the door,
'I will not wear a similar dress any more,
'Any more, any more, any more, never more!'


More often than not, at the end of the supper, after we've read the Bible and whatever else I want to read, Mike will walk over to the book case and pick up one of our volumes of Edward Lear poetry. Sometimes they will read his nonsense songs, or nonsense stories. The nonsense alphabet is fun, the illustrations for the nonsense botany is silly. Did you know Edward Lear invented the limerick? They always read The Jumblies (Disclosure: I couldn't remember the name, and had to ask my three year old who is sitting here next to me eating his grapefruit, good thing one of us can remember things!), sometimes the Dong with the Luminous Nose, with The Owl and the Pussycat making an appearance along the way.

More often than not the children ask for the poem above. One of our volumes has Mr. Lear's illustrations, and he drew quite the picture of a man in his new vestments. Some type of lesson could be learned, I'm sure, from this man and his crazy clothes, but we prefer to take it as pure fun and nonsense. Josie insists that his socks are human skin. Which would change the tone of the poem completely. But there you have it. Read this poem out loud. A couple times, until you get the rhythm. Then find yourself a child who will giggle along with you at the absurdity of a person wearing food as clothing.

Oh, and if you want to read some good poetry, along with some even better writing, be sure to click on all the link below. You won't regret it.


Molly Sabourin said...

That is a fun, fun read! Yes, the rhythm is delightfully catchy - I'll be sharing this with Benjamin. Thanks for silly-ing up my Wednesday, Kris! : )

Beth Hanna said...

What a fun poem! I wish I had more access to poems - the funner, the better! Keep having a super time reading together - and don´t ever, ever stop!!

Emily Lorelli said...

Love it!! You're right -- it could be read Poe-like or Suess-like for very different effect! I will have to find this book at the library for fun reading.

Michelle said...

Edward Lear always makes me laugh! We love the Jumblies, the Owl & the Pussycat...

but I have to admit, the only Lear we've read have come in our poem anthologies with our schoolbooks. Perhaps I'll hunt some up at the library.


PS I love that you didn't know the name of the poem. I almost e-mailed you the other day to ask help of your husband who is so poetically literate. But I couldn't bring myself to do it! :)