“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,
They danced by the light of the moon.
– The Owl and the Pussycat fell in love after going to sea in a beautiful pea-green boat
Winter blues got you down? Nonsense.
Let me explain. Blue Monday is billed as the most depressing day of the year, and it was supposedly the 19th of January. The idea is based on a totally made up “study” released a few years ago by a travel company that wants everyone to book refreshing mid-winter holidays.
British media reported on it again this week, but different websites say Blue Monday is next week. So, pick a depressing day. Yours is just as valid as that travel company’s.
More seriously, many of us have a hard time staying cheery in the depths of winter.
Try to push against the dreary by allowing some proper nonsense into your life.
How about Edward Lear! His tale of the newly wed Owl and Pussycat introduced the word “runcible” back in 1871. And Lear was a stubborn, recurring linguist: “he weareth a runcible hat”, he later notedeth of himself, while his other works featured a runcible cat, a goose, and even a wall.
Recall Lewis Carroll’s gibberish Jabberwocky, published the same year in Through The Looking-Glass, a masterpiece of whymsy:
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Through The Looking-Glass was the surrealist sequel to 1865’s hit, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland (both are available in one volume in the Lennoxville Library’s children’s section at C-216; Lear’s Owl And The Pussycat is at C-88).
Inspired by Edward Lear and passing through a childhood filled with Dr. Seuss (whose delightful books riddle our shelves, but check C-68 and neighbouring C-72 and 74, as well as C-106), modern-day author and artist Tiny Di-Terlooney (sorry, Tony DiTerlizzi) has wrassled up an ABC book that was illustration-bombed mid-way through by a bunch of number-nuts. Thus was born a genuine pushme-pullyou: G Is For One Gzonk! An Alpha-Number-Bet Book (2006, in C-16):
A is for an angry Ack,
He eats 8 pounds of clothes
Observe the one-eyed Krigglebink
slurp catsup through a straw…
X could be this Xirzle, who
is trying to cook my shoe.
Or what of the wackiness of the (real) artist Hieronymus Bosch? Born in what’s now called the Netherlands around 1450 or so, almost nothing is known of him. He left no diaries, letters, even municipal records are largely blank. But he did leave fantasmagorical paintings. Only 25 are attributed with outmost certainty, and they are spooky, dadaist treasures.
In 1560, Felipe de Guevara called Bosch “the inventor of monsters and chimeras.” One hundred years later, Bosch was still considered the creator of “wondrous and strange fantasies… [though] often less pleasant than gruesome to look at.”
Well, stuff and nonsense to all that. Pish Posh, Said Hieronymus Bosch is a fun and very pretty little picture book (1991, filed in C-110) filled with wacky words by Mary Willard and complex artwork by the Dillons – each painting is sketched in acrylics, then oils, then placed in a frame that was cast in silver, bronze and brass, then assembled in a wood frame.
Bosch’s long-suffering housekeeper simply can’t take it anymore!
I’m quitting your service I’ve had quite enough
of your three-legged thistles asleep in my wash,
of scrubbing the millstone you use for a dish
and riding to shops on a pickle-winged fish.
Bosch doesn’t take her seriously, but… she leaves! What will Bosch do? What will the housekeeper do?
Is there any way to bring these two iron-willed people back together? Perhaps a pickle-winged fish could help after all…
Got the blues? The run of-the-mill kind of blues? Remember that the sunlight is already holding out a little longer, and the orgle snoogiehep og feebleweep oughten bacghellen.
– Eleanor Brown, January 23, 2015