Sunday, July 14, 2019

2019.07.14 A Runcible Spoon Of Course No Less


I
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!"
 

II

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.
 

III

"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 a little girl I adored this poem. I still do. It feels like year-round, summer-like, whimsical nonsense that makes great sense for no good reason whatsoever.

Logically, I would have queried without ceasing about what a runcible spoon was, but I have no memory of getting stuck on “runcibility,” having figured that it was just a special spoon that we didn’t happen to have in our kitchen drawer. I looked. Besides, why would we, we were not owls or pussycats? [Clever silversmiths through the centuries have indeed designed made-up runcible spoons.]

Early on, my ginormous imagination, aided by expansive curiosity and self-help investigation, swallowed things whole or made them fit into my life’s schematic, including the outrageous idea of God. My mind was logically nonsensical. Still is. This can be a dangerous modus operandi, of course, but it can also be fun, and for me at least, it didn’t crush my soul, but gave me God along with many other wondrous mysteries.

I’m sure the poet Edward Lear must have had a logically nonsensical mind like mine, although here he looks more eccentric, as one might expect of a proper Englishman born in 1812, than whimsical.
Lear was the penultimate of 21 children, raised by his eldest sister Ann, 21 years his senior, after the post-Napoleonic war and the resultant collapse of the family business. As if that weren’t enough to douse a soul, Lear suffered from epileptic seizures, bronchitis and asthma, partial blindness, depression he called “the Morbids,” and the pains and pangs of unrequited affections in attractions to both sexes. Still, or therefore, he made stuff up, and called his writings and illustrations: "nonsense literature for children." I was charmed as a child. I remain so as an adult.

Can’t you just picture the dancing duo off to a honeymoon by moonlight in a pea-green boat with honey and money and quince and mince, and a ring to seal the deal—forever and ever amen?
All this whimsy might augur a mystical moment, prescient of my early ascent toward sainthood. OR it might simply be the beginning of my slide into a deliciously runcible dementia.