Advertisements

The Children of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat

Edward Lear’s sequel to his classic nonsense love poem

Did you know that Edward Lear wrote a sequel to ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’? ‘The Children of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat’ first appeared in Angus Davidson’s Edward Lear: Landscape Painter and Nonsense Poet in 1938. It makes it clear that the cat was indeed the female in this unlikely marriage, and the owl male. It also takes a rather tragic turn, as the Owl and Pussy-Cat’s offspring tell us of the death of their feline mother some five years earlier, and the resulting single-parent upbringing they had. The poem was never finished, and Lear never published it, but it helps to underscore the sense of melancholy and sadness that pervades Lear’s best-loved nonsense verse – as well as Lear’s own life.

‘The Children of the Owl and the Pussy-Cat’ is reproduced below, complete with the gaps in the original manuscript – just as Lear, sadly, left it.

Our mother was the Pussy-cat, our father was the Owl,
And so we’re partly little beasts and partly little fowl,
The brothers of our family have feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur and have long tails to boot.
Owl and the PussycatWe all believe that little mice,
For food are singularly nice.
Our mother died long years ago. She was a lovely cat
Her tail was 5 feet long, and grey with stripes, but what of that?
In Sila forest on the East of fair Calabria’s shore
She tumbled from a lofty tree — none ever saw her more.
Our owly father long was ill from sorrow and surprise,
But with the feathers of his tail he wiped his weeping eyes.
And in the hollow of a tree in Sila’s inmost maze
We made a happy home and there we pass our obvious days.

From Reggian Cosenza many owls about us flit
And bring us worldly news for which we do not care a bit.
We watch the sun each morning rise, beyond Tarento’s strait;
We go out —————— before it gets too late;
And when the evening shades begin to lengthen from the trees
—————— as sure as bees is bees.
We wander up and down the shore ——————
Or tumble over head and heels, but never, never more
Can see the far Gromboolian plains ———————
Or weep as we could once have wept o’er many a vanished scene:
This is the way our father moans — he is so very green.

Our father still preserves his voice, and when he sees a star
He often sings ———— to that original guitar.
——————————————————–
——————————————————–
The pot in which our parents took the honey in their boat,
But all the money has been spent, beside the £5 note.
The owls who come and bring us news are often ——
Because we take no interest in poltix of the day.)

Image: Edward Lear’s illustration for ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, via Wikimedia Commons.

Advertisements

About interestingliterature

A blog dedicated to rooting out the interesting stuff about classic books and authors.

Posted on March 4, 2016, in Literature and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. I love this, never knew of it.

  2. That is completely news to me – thank you so much for making me aware of it!

  3. How wonderful. Thank you.

  4. This is lovely. Thank you for sharing it. The Owl and the Pussy Cat is one of my favourite poems. I never had any doubt that the owl was the male and the cat the female. I’m glad they had children and a happy life together.

  5. Well I never heard that before, thank you.

  6. No, I didn’t know that, but it’s just as much fun as the original.

  7. I did not know this!! I continue to learn…

%d bloggers like this: