Saturday, May 4, 2013

A Birthday in May ~ Edward Lear

I began the "Birthday" series of prompts for our Poems in April, and it has proven to be very popular, so I have decided to make this a regular mini-challenge on the first Sunday of every month.

Edward Lear
W. Holman Hunt-Walker Art Gallery Liverpool

Edward Lear was born on 12 May 1812, the twentieth of twenty one children, and one of the few to survive his infancy. He is known as an English artist, illustrator, author and humorist. As an artist, he first became known for his paintings of birds and, later, for his landscapes.

Birds for John Gould by Edward Lear

He travelled in Italy, Greece, India and Egypt and published books of his travels with his own illustrations.

Tallygunge, Calcutta (1877)
Mackelvie Trust Collect

In 1846, Lear published A Book of Nonsense, which was well-received in his lifetime and he popularized the limerick form.

Public Domain

Another well-know nonsense poem is The Owl and the Pussycat.

Public Domain

Lear's nonsense works are distinguished by a facility of verbal invention and a poet's delight in the sounds of words, both real and imaginary. A stuffed rhinoceros becomes a "diaphanous doorscraper". A "blue Boss-Woss" plunges into "a perpendicular, spicular, orbicular, quadrangular, circular depth of soft mud". His heroes are Quangle-Wangles, Pobbles, and Jumblies. His most famous piece of verbal invention, the phrase "runcible spoon", occurs in the closing lines of The Owl and the Pussycat, and is now found in many English dictionaries. (wiki)

From A Book of Nonsense (1849)

Our challenge today is to write a poem based in some part on the work of Edward Lear. Whether you choose nonsense verse, limerick or opt for an ekphrasis piece inspired by one of his paintings or illustrations is left entirely up to you. I would encourage you to browse through his artworks, as they are many and varied.
 The Sunday Challenge is posted on Saturday at noon CST to allow extra time for the creative process, so please do not link up old work which kind of fits an image. This is in the spirit of our Real Toads project to create opportunities for poets to be newly inspired. Management reserves the right to remove unrelated links but invites you to share a poem of your choice on Open Link Monday.


hedgewitch said...

A fascinating look at Lear, Kerry. I loved his stuff as a child, and he only gets better with age. I am in a very nonsensical mood, also, so this ought to work out well. ;_)

Kay L. Davies said...

Nonsense? You want ME to write nonsense? To be fun and creative and silly instead of staid and...and...and whatever else serious people are?
I'll give it a try. Just for you, Kerry. Maybe for Hedge, too.

hedgewitch said...

Laughin at Kay--can't wait to see you break out of your rut. ;_)

I had tons of fun with this, Kerry--thanks.

Anonymous said...

I am supposedly taking a much needed blog-break, Kerry, but I could not resist. Edward Lear so much fun. I would have liked to imitate a drawing but no real time. k.

Gail said...

Trying again.

Thank you for these fun prompts.

Margaret said...

I live this challenge and am glad it is sticking around!! Exhausted tonight. Had a horse show, daughter's prom, and symphony orchestra all in one day!! Good night Toads. I'll see you on Sunday, a day of rest I hope.

Vandana Sharma said...



Maggie Grace said...

Was so happy to find an illustration of a tortoise from him. I have a pet tortoise. Long time since I did a limerick...or make anything rhyme. Something "nonsensical" was a great challenge!

Susie Clevenger said...

Love visiting Lear's written and art work. I definitely wrote nonsense. Not sure it classifies as a limerick, but it rhymes. :)Thanks Kerry for putting together this piece!

Grandmother Mary said...

This was a fun reintroduction to Edward Lear and his much loved works. The word smithing intrigued me so I'll give it a try.

Marian said...

love it, Kerry! just seeing it this morning but i'm out for the day scootering around with kids so i should be able to come up with some Lear-ish nonsense. xoxo

Margaret said...

Good morning, my Toad's! It is my 23rd wedding anniversary... how can that be? Wow. I LOVE this challenge Kerry! Thanks for keeping it.

Ella said...

Happy Anniversary Margaret :D

Oh, I picked out a toucan for Hannah's ....started it but now seeing this first pic...
Off to read and write

Thanks Kerry and Hannah!

L. Edgar Otto said...

Not sure how to go about this but after seeing the series on PBS, the ancient rain forests and history of Australia over geological time... I chose the Turtles... the last thing I posted on blogspot com but it did not take on facebook notes It is a project for a song... the flow and symbols in it is as strange as the music... you may remove if not on topic or method. I am learning.

Marian said...

late entry! and not a very good one, either. oh, well. i LOVE the prompt anyway.