Saturday

Jan. 20, 2007

The Jumblies

by Edward Lear

SATURDAY, 20 JANUARY, 2007
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Poem: "The Jumblies" by Edward Lear. (buy now)

The Jumblies

I
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 every one cried, "You'll all be drowned!"
They 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.

II
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.

III
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 or 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.

IV
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,
We sail away with a pea-green sail,
   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.

V
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 Jack-daws,
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.

VI
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 Torrible Zone,
   And the hills of the Chankly Bore!"
And they drank 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.


Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of poet Edward Hirsch, (books by this author) born in Chicago, Illinois (1950).

It's the birthday of novelist and short-story writer Robert Olen Butler, (books by this author) born in Granite City, Illinois (1945). Butler worked as a cab driver, an editor, in a steel-mill, and as a teacher in both high school and college. He started off at Northwestern University as a theater major, but before graduating he turned to playwriting, deciding he would "rather write the words than mouth them." He signed up to serve in the Vietnam War and was assigned to army intelligence and he spent a year learning Vietnamese. He returned to the U.S. in 1972 and worked as an editor and reporter in New York City. He wrote his first novels using a lapboard while traveling to and from work on the Long Island Railroad.

He won the Pulitzer Prize in short fiction in 1993 for his collection A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain (1992). His collection Tabloid Dreams (1997) is a series of stories, each of which is based on actual headlines he had seen in grocery store tabloid newspapers.

It's the birthday of filmmaker Federico Fellini, (books by this author) born in Rimini, Italy (1920). Fellini was a perfectionist who oversaw all the details of a film's production. He wrote all of his scripts — with help from dialogue writers — and was even involved in the final editing of his films. He said that the most important year of his life was 1939, when he traveled with his friend, the comedian Aldo Fabrizi, all across Italy with a vaudeville troupe.


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