‘I Saw a Peacock’: The 400 Year-Old Nonsense Poem

In this week’s Dispatches from The Secret Library, Dr Oliver Tearle analyses a poem that represents the meeting-point of ancient riddle and modern nonsense

‘I Saw a Peacock’ is an anonymous nonsense poem that is included in Quentin Blake’s The Puffin Book of Nonsense Verse (Puffin Poetry), a wonderful anthology which I’d recommend to any fans of nonsense verse. I thought I’d make ‘I Saw a Peacock’ the topic of this week’s Secret Library column because is a fun little poem and a few words of analysis will help to show how clever and fun it is in its construction. It’s also not as well-known as it perhaps should be. But first, here is the poem:

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