Tuesday Poem -The Jumblies by Edward Lear

This is a wonderful poem for sharing with the children in your life or the child within you. Read it aloud and enjoy!

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 cried 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.
Rather than discuss the meaning of this or any other nonsense poem I comment that it is the function of nonsense which is important…And I mean nonsense in its best sense. Nonsense is an important way of making sense of life…a glorious freedom, in the midst of which we are close to nirvana. And while I believe children in particular feel safe and grounded with routines such as regular meals bedtimes etc. they also need creative play, and the support to imagine possibilities, even if they are not always ‘sensible.’ So feel free to enjoy the silliness of the above poem without expecting a deep meaning. Lear himself, said in regard to his nonsense poems, “the critics are very silly to see politics in such bosh: not but that bosh requires a good deal of care, for it is a sine quâ non in writing for children to keep what they have to read perfectly clear & bright, & incapable of any meaning but one of sheer nonsense” (Selected Letters 228)

I loved the comments made by author and father Don Coxon after reading this poem to his baby.

If you wish to know more about the work of Lear I recommend the website of the Edward Lear. Society where you can read about his life as the 21st child in a Victorian family, his poetry , his paintings and his travel writing.

 

2 thoughts on “Tuesday Poem -The Jumblies by Edward Lear”

  1. Oh thank you Helen. Off on Fri to see Simon’s family for 10 days in Geelong. I have dollar shop presents for Charlotte 13 and Ben 10 but I badly needed some WORDS to enjoy with them, and you’ve given them to me!
    Much love, as always, Jane

    Sent from my iPhone

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