Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Poignancy of Nonsense

Today I spent another full day at the Thrift Store---my third in a row---and I am physically zonked. 
I cashiered in the AM, and it was fun to ring up about half of the things Julia and I had put out last night.

Eating cookies on break in the workroom, I said to my fellow volunteers something like, 
"I'm worn out, but nevertheless I feel such unalloyed joy being here with you all!"

And one of them, Eric, looked at me and said [with affection],
"UnalloyedNevertheless. You just used those two words in one sentence."

Along with putting out a parrot candelabra, this made me feel like Edward Lear--a quirky, amused person tinged, nevertheless, with just a bit of . . . poignant displacement (?), like nutmeg on egg custard.

You know Edward Lear?
I'd thought he was almost as well known as fellow Victorian Lewis Carrol, but now I think not.  Though maybe people sort of know his most famous nonsense poem, "The Own and the Pussycat"?

When I was falling in love with my Latin professor, or falling in love with Latin, or with Augustine's Confessions (in Latin), or all of the above--I can't even untangle it now--when I was thirty-two, one of the things I did was translate "The Owl and the Pussycat" into Latin and give it to him.
Talk about overshooting the mark.
I had no idea that someone translating Edward Lear into Latin for fun would be an aphrodisiac to a Classics prof...

I was so naive.
Much mayhem ensued.

Anyway, I grew up loving his Book of Nonsense
<   this edition,
which our mother [of course our mother] gave me and my sister. 

I especially loved Lear's animals, which were like my own stuffed animals, in my mind. [Alive, but on their own terms.]

Lear could be a patron saint of SNARP (stuffed needy animal rescue project).

When I was looking up Edward Lear, I came across this illustration of his work by Gabriella Barouch

I don't even remember any bears at all in Lear, and this doesn't quite fit him (and I can't imagine illustration his work because his own illustrations are so perfectly part of his written words), 
but I've been thinking about bears lately because I'm surprised at how much I like some of my stuffed bears, when I've never cared about bears before, and I really like this.

Is the bear protecting the person, or is the person part of the bear? Is that a boy? A woman? 
Something else?

Oh, my. I am tired. I need to go take a hot bath...


Zhoen said...

I don't have an inner child, but an inner bear. Or maybe the inner bear ate the inner child long ago as a sort of totemic protection.

Unalloyed. Nevertheless. Writers, sheesh.

I know Edward Lear, of course. And his beautiful sea green boat.

ArtSparker said...

Lovely post. Overlapping Lear at the end of the Victorian Era was Hillaire Belloc, whose "Bad Child's Book of Beasts" is a wonderful nonsense classic. The person inside the bear reminds me of the old fairytale"Bearskin", in which the heroine had good reason to hide inside a bear.

Fresca said...

ZHOEN: Hello to your inner bear!

SPARKER: Ancestors of Edward Gorey...