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The Jumblies – They Went to Sea in a Sieve – By Edward Lear

February 4, 2013

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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.

About Edward Lear:

Edward Lear (12 May 1812 – 29 January 1888) was an English artist, illustrator, author and poet, and is renowned primarily for his literary nonsense, in poetry and prose and especially his limericks, a form that he popularised. From childhood he suffered ill health, including epilepsy (of which he was ashamed) and depression. He travelled widely for much of his life, before settling in Sanremo. He never married, though he did propose it. Instead he suffered from an unreciprocated love affair with Franklin Lushington, who he had first met in Malta. He had many friends and a devoted pet cat. Yet when after a long decline in health, he died of heart disease, none of his friends were able to attend his funeral.

His principal areas of work as an artist were threefold: as a draughtsman employed to illustrate birds and animals; making coloured drawings during his journeys, which he reworked later, sometimes as plates for his travel books; as a (largely frustrated) illustrator of Tennyson’s poems.

As an author, Lear is principally known for his popular nonsense works, rather than as a travel writer. These show a great ability to use with relish the sound of real and invented English words. He was particularly adept at surprising his readers, and, in his limericks, had a genius for doing so without resorting to shocking them.

In 1846 Lear published A Book of Nonsense, a volume of limericks that went through three editions and helped popularise the form. In 1865 The History of the Seven Families of the Lake Pipple-Popple was published, and in 1867 his most famous piece of nonsense, The Owl and the Pussycat, which he wrote for the children of his patron Edward Stanley, 13th Earl of Derby. Many other works followed.

From Wikepedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Lear

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