Monday, January 22, 2007

The Owl and the Pussycat

Back about 30+ years ago, while in elementary school, I was in a play. As most of you know, in order to be in a play, you must be able to memorize some lines (unless you are playing the part of a tree!) I don’t really remember the name of the play or even what part I played in but I do remember what I had to learn when I was part of the group that had to recite a poem. This was not my first play that I was in. Durung the year before, I was in a play titled “Sneaky Fitch.” In that play I had more lines than anybody else as I was the narrator. Out of all the lines that I learned, I remember only one that I had to sing…

“Sneaky Fitch, Sneaky Fitch was a low down yellow son of a …” and then someone would yell out “Prairie dog!”

Now this poem that the group of us had to recite never really made sense to me but never-the-less we had to memorize it and we did. Now what I want to know is, out of all the lines that I ever learned, out of all the poems that I ever recited and out of all the Bible verses that I ever memorized, why was it that the only thing I am unable to get out of my head is that confounded poem we had to recite!

It is not uncommon for my friends and family to roll their eyes and walk out of the room as I break into the poem from way back when… “The Owl and the Pussycat” by Edward Lear (1812 – 1888).

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.

So, you can thank your lucky stars that you don't have to hear me recite this poem time and time again. I wish that I could just erase it out of my memory but I can't. I have even tried to a self help group such as Owl and Pussycat Anonymous (OPA) to recover and help forget (don't believe everything I say!Especially the OPA stuff!) but I cannot forget. So, I have finally decided that the only rational thing to do is to accept myself for the way I am and carry this poem with me to the grave!

Wish me luck!

(artwork by Chet Phillips, 2005)


Sunil Parmar said...

Hello Dave.
We don't cut-off any of our body parts if it starts paining~we just try to heal that.So you've a nostalgia attached to these memories of your childhood.Just carry them in the form they are coz to me they sound very beautiful.

Your way of narration is too good.

Take care.

Dave said...

Hi Sunil Parmer... You offer good advice! I just think of it as a memory that will always be with me (which is really okay) ... good memories. Something to recite to people around me (especially my kids) when I want to bug them! lol :-)

Wendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira said...

Hello Dave....

The owl and the pussy cat used to be a favourite rhyme of mine... for some reason the words have stuck in my head a long time, and I sometimes still hear it in my head... wierd huh....Well I have been thinking of teaching it to my 5 year old daughter for sometime now and could not remember the whole poem... but thanks to you I now have it.... am going to copy it somewhere....

Hannelie said...

Hi Dave, visiting via Sunil today.
Had to admit your profile photo made me think "is that snow in the back ground?" and here I am to see for myself. I loved the poem! It's funny and different. My mum-in-law remembers also lots of poems and it's her entertainment for the grand kids.
Something to look forward to for you.

A bit about myself: Son (eldest) starting High school this year, I feel not ready, as all mums say when their babies grow up.
Hoping to be a High school teacher one day too and enjoy my fitness routines too.

Glad to came across your blog (thx Sunil) and will visit again.

Australian greetings.

Lone Grey Squirrel said...

First of all, is that finally, the real you? Pleased to meet you. Much better than the picture before cause I can't tell one decapitated bald blue head from another!

I liked the poem and the illustration is beautiful, very vibrant. I don't understand the point of the poem but it reads well.

Anonymous said...

Hi,I can't really blame those who run away.Just kidding...
Seriously, the work is indeed good. and why won't it be, afterall.
My opinion: there is still a lot to reckon with, if one read and reread the whole of it.

Dave said...

HiWendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira... Still in your head...So, I think you know what I am talking about then... :-) Maybe it was the silliness of the poem that caused us to keep remembering it! Nice to meet you! Take care! :-)

Hi Hannelie...Pleased to meet you as well! Looking forward to gradkids??? Am I really looking that old? LOL Nice to meet you ... Take care :-)

Yah LGS...It's me! LOL

The blue head was actually a blue Neanderthal Head and I was afraid that some would think it was really me! LOL

Hi Kulpreet!... Thanks for visiting. Very nice to meet you! :-)

Janice said...

Marvelous post Dave! least your poem is a shorty...I still remember most of "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner" like it was you know how LONG that poem is?? Ah well there is a reason for everything. I too enjoy your way of narration :)

Le Nightowl said...

It's great to be able to recite any poem after so many years. I wish I could say the same... come to think of it, there might be one though (in French, of course).
It's called le Corbeau et le Renard (the Crow and the Fox), by Jean de La Fontaine.
I found a translation for you. Here it goes:

The Crow and The Fox

Master Crow sat on a tree,
Holding a cheese in his beak.
Master Fox was attracted by the odour,
And tried to attract him thus.
"Mister Crow, good day to you.
You are a handsome and good looking bird!
In truth, if your song is as beautiful as your plumage,
You are the Phoenix of this forest."
Hearing these words the Crow felt great joy,
And to demonstrate his beautiful voice,
He opened his mouth wide and let drop his prey.
The Fox seized it and said: "My good Sir,
Know that every flatterer,
Lives at the expense of those who take him seriously:
This is a lesson that is worth a cheese no doubt."
The Crow, embarrassed and confused,
Swore, though somewhat later, that he would never be
tricked thus again.

Dave said...

Hi Janice!...3871 words! YOu are right, it IS a long poem and "NO" I did not count them ... Thanks goodness for MS WORD which counts the words in your file!

Hi Marie!..Thanks for the Crow and the Fox. I have never heard it before... I dare not read it more than once though... might not be able to get it out of my head! :-)

Anonymous said...

rey8cat!@Hello Dave!

I'm so glad you came to visit me! I love your blog and will come back more often! I love the picture of the "Cat and Owl"

take Care!

montidogeo said...

Yes a £5 pound note was a lot of money back then, as it would be now in my pocket. And what were they running away from I ask ? Stealing money, honey and a small boat to abscond to foreign parts ! To get married !!

In the UK this poem is now illegal and not taught in schools as it gives the wrong message. Though I remember this great poem from my childhood, when it was all much simplier and less complicated. If I taught this to my young children now they would go, " What !!! ?? ".

Z said...

Dave, not only can I recite The Owl and the Pussycat, but I know the whole of The Walrus and the Carpenter, from when I was a winsome, blonde 11-year-old and therefore, of course, played the Walrus in the school production of Alice.

Family walk out of the room? Pfft! They relish every moment. If they know what's good for them...

Jocelyn said...

Very good! I often mourn that memorization of poetry and "recitation" have gone by the wayside.

Rose said...

I was reading your post and when repeating the lines “Sneaky Fitch, Sneaky Fitch was a low down yellow son of a .......... what I was thinking was not nice at all. Great now I'm going to have this poem stuck in my head all day long.

Dave said...

Pleased to meet you Proxima!...I look forward to reading more about your crafts!

montidogeo...I found your piece of Owl and Pussycat trivia quite interesting! My, how things have changed!

Z... Know what's good for them you say? Try telling them that! LOL :-) Nice to meet you!

Hi Jocelyn...Gone by the wayside and replaced by Rap and who knows what else... Not that there's anything wrong with Rap... Right? Hmmm :-)

Hi Rose...Nice to meet you... Sorry to ruin your thought process fo the day. :-)

Michelle said...

We do remember some of the oddest things throughout our lives, don't we?

And, of course, all the best luck to you but I somehow doubt that you really need it!


Keshi said...

It seems like ur a great poet :)


Josie said...

Dave, that's a good poem to remember. I used to love that poem when I was a kid. You know, I can still remember Jabberwocky.

Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe

It's weird the things we retain.

Did I tell you I like your picture? Keep it. You remind me of an actor, but I can't think of his name.


bardouble29 said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog...I wa in quite a few play also...I remember most of them...The best on was "A Mouse That Roared"

Becky Wolfe said...

I always remember the part about 'the pea green boat' from my childhood though I never memorised this one. Congrats to you for remembering it after all these years. I can just imagine the PASSION in your voice as you recite it. hehehe

I can't say I have very good memorization skills. I know I had to memorise stuff weekly for Sunday School as a child - I would learn it in the car on Sunday morning & forget it by lunch time Sunday afternoon. I will however, never forget Psalm 23 - too much of a classic to memorize I guess.

CSL said...

Got here via em's blog, which I also just found. Those early memories are to be cherished. In my first play I was the letter U. I'm not kidding. It was a play about vowels. We all have to start somewhere.

Beth said...

How I loved that poem when I was little!