Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Poetry Wednesday: The Jumblies

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The Jumblies is a charming little fantasy of a group of people who go to sea in a sieve. Written in the 19th century by Edward Lear, it has been published many times with various artist's ideas of the characters and events of the poem. But none, perhaps, more delightful than the illustrations by Edward Gorey. Just by chance I picked up the 2008 mini calendar featuring the Edward Gorey illustrations. All year long I studied those little diagrams with all their clever detail. At the end of the year I almost saved the calendar, I loved those illustrations so much. But then I thought it would just become more "stuff" to throw out later, and so I threw it out. Now I regret it and wish I had it back.

But here is the poem along with the cover of the calendar. And for a bonus, below you'll find a YouTube video of what is perhaps Edward Gorey's most famous piece, his animated introduction to PBS' Mystery Theatre, a delightful piece as well!

If there is a message here, I'd say it's that we should not be so cautious with our plans that we never have a real adventure.

Enjoy!


The Jumblies

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Edward Lear



Oh dear, I found a different one. I must share.

8 comments:

Michael said...

Absolutely wonderful blog Bekkie.....such wonderful memories. I intend to introduce my grandchildren to the joys of Lear. Such a marvellous antidote to the modern world.

bekkieann said...

I do think this poem begs to be read aloud, and especially to children. I think I'll read it to my grandsons the next time they come over.

Jacqui Binford-Bell said...

One of my favorite poets and a definite favorite illustrator in one blog.

BTW I bought a book of his illustrations and gave them as a gift to someone. So I know how you feel about the calendar.

Kwika said...

otten this one.

Kwika said...

Did not say otten. I said forgotten :o)

bekkieann said...

These are fun to remember. Some adult minds seem so in tune with playfulness.

Bee said...

I'd forgotten - so many years ago! You are so right about reading it aloud.

bekkieann said...

Hi Bee, thanks for dropping by. Yes, many years. It reminded me of my many readings of Alice in Wonderland as a child. I always liked stories of impossibilities.