(Poem #297) The Pobble Who Has No Toes
The Pobble who has no toes Had once as many as we; When they said "Some day you may lose them all;" He replied "Fish, fiddle-de-dee!" And his Aunt Jobiska made him drink Lavender water tinged with pink, For she said "The World in general knows There's nothing so good for a Pobble's toes!" The Pobble who has no toes Swam across the Bristol Channel; But before he set out he wrapped his nose In a piece of scarlet flannel. For his Aunt Jobiska said "No harm Can come to his toes if his nose is warm; And it's perfectly known that a Pobble's toes Are safe, -- provided he minds his nose!" The Pobble swam fast and well, And when boats or ships came near him, He tinkledy-blinkledy-winkled a bell, So that all the world could hear him. And all the Sailors and Admirals cried, When they saw him nearing the further side - "He has gone to fish for his Aunt Jobiska's Runcible Cat with crimson whiskers!" But before he touched the shore, The shore of the Bristol Channel, A sea-green porpoise carried away His wrapper of scarlet flannel. And when he came to observe his feet, Formerly garnished with toes so neat, His face at once became forlorn, On perceiving that all his toes were gone! And nobody ever knew, From that dark day to the present, Whoso had taken the Pobble's toes, In a manner so far from pleasant. Whether the shrimps, or crawfish grey, Or crafty Mermaids stole them away - Nobody knew: and nobody knows How the Pobble was robbed of his twice five toes! The Pobble who has no toes Was placed in a friendly Bark, And they rowed him back, and carried him up To his Aunt Jobiska's Park. And she made him a feast at his earnest wish Of eggs and buttercups fried with fish, - And she said "It's a fact the whole world knows, That Pobbles are happier without their toes!"
The Pobble's Aunt Jobiska is one of my favourite poetic personages, if only because she seems to embody the many oh-so-familiar characteristics of aunts everywhere . The Pobble himself is a rather mysterious character. Like his soulmate, the Dong with the Luminous Nose, he lives in a surreal, twilit world, populated with Runcible Cats, Jumbly Girls and Oblong Oysters... thomas. PS. As an aside, I just love the effrontery with which Lear coins the name 'Jobiska', and then goes on to rhyme it with 'whiskers'...  To any of my aunts who may happen to chance upon this email - this doesn't apply to you, of course :-) [Links] Edward Lear's most celebrated poem is 'The Owl and the Pussycat', which you can read at poem #165 - there's also a brief biography of the poet at the same URL. The other canonical example of nonsense verse is Samuel Foote's 'The Great Panjandrum', at poem #208 [Connection with the theme] Edward Lear spent most of his adult life traveling, mainly around the Mediterranean (though he also spent long stretches in India and Ceylon). He stayed in Rome, Corfu and San Remo at various times in his life; while there, he produced a series of justly-celebrated watercolours. His favourite subjects were songbirds and landscapes, both of which he drew with a delicate touch and a painstaking attention to detail. The Ashmolean in Oxford has an extensive selection of his work; it's well worth a visit, if you ever find yourself in that part of the world.