Poetry Friday: The Owl and the Pussy-cat

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Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone! Over the past few days, I considered many favorite love poems to share today. Something from Shakespeare? Maybe a Beatles song, in honor of the 50th anniversary of their first visit to America. In the end, I did stick with a Brit I’ve loved since childhood. Edward Lear’s silliness has always appealed to me, and “The Owl and the Pussy-cat” is one of my all-time favorites.

The Owl and The Pussycat, from 1928 Marguerite Davis Sugar and Spice and all that's nice, poem by Edward lear
Marguerite Davis

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

by Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea

In a beautiful pea-green boat,

They took some honey, and plenty of money,

Wrapped up in a five-pound note.

The Owl looked up to the stars above,

And sang to a small guitar,

“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,

What a beautiful Pussy you are.

You are,

You are!

What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!”

How charmingly sweet you sing!

O let us be married! too long we have tarried:

But what shall we do for a ring?”

They sailed away, for a year and a day,

To the land where the Bong-Tree grows

And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood

With a ring at the end of his nose,

His nose,

His nose,

With a ring at the end of his nose.

“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling

Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”

So they took it away, and were married next day

By the Turkey who lives on the hill.

They dined on mince, and slices of quince,

Which they ate with a runcible spoon;

And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,

They danced by the light of the moon,

The moon,

The moon,

They danced by the light of the moon.

When I was little, my mother read this poem to me from a Childcraft book of children’s poems. My own children loved poring over Jan Brett’s richly detailed illustrations for the poem. Do you have a favorite version of Lear’s classic poem?

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Whether on the edge of the sand or by the light of the moon, be sure to dance on over to Teacher Dance, where Linda has the Poetry Friday Round Up. Wishing you joy this Valentine’s Day!

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17 thoughts on “Poetry Friday: The Owl and the Pussy-cat

  1. Love ‘and they danced by the light of the moon’-just wonderful, Catherine. My daughter and I once memorized it, don’t have it anymore, just parts. We read from “A Child’s Book of Poems” illustrated by Gyo Fujikawa-love the poems, love the art! Thanks for sharing your favorite!

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  2. Hi there Catherine, this was actually one of the books I shared for Valentine last year. I have a different version though, the one illustrated by Stephane Jorisch. It had a very European vibe to it, truly lovely. 🙂

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    • I wasn’t familiar with Jorisch’s version, so I looked it up. You’re right, it’s very sophisticated and European. I love seeing how different artists interpret the same words. Thanks for stopping by, Myra!

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    • I’m surprised you don’t already have one! I actually have a pin, given to me by a dear friend, of the owl & pussycat in a boat made from a runcible spoon. When I read this poem to my students, I wear it so they can actually see a runcible spoon.

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