Wednesday, April 27, 2011

How pleasant, indeed.

Chronicle has just published His Shoes Were Far Too Tight, a collection of Edward Lear’s poems, selected and introduced by author/NPR commentator Daniel Pinkwater. The collection is illustrated by Calef Brown, a fabulous children’s poet himself.

With the book we received a CD of the euphonious Pinkwater narrating five of the poems. My favorite is the collection’s opener, Lear’s self-effacing self-portrait “How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear!”:

How pleasant to know Mr. Lear!
Who has written such volumes of stuff!
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few find him pleasant enough.

His mind is concrete and fastidious;
His nose is remarkably big;
His visage is more or less hideous;
His beard it resembles a wig.
He sits in a beautiful parlor,
With hundreds of books on the wall;
He drinks a great deal of Marsala,
But never gets tipsy at all.
He has many friends, lay men and clerical;
Old Foss is the name of his cat;
His body is perfectly spherical;
He weareth a runcible hat…

I think Mr. Lear and I would get along quite well, actually, amid our cats and hundreds of books.

Chronicle has also made the audio tracks available online. Add a little nonsense to your day by listening to “How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear!” along with “The Pobble Who Has No Toes,” “The Owl and the Pussycat,” “The Jumblies,” and “Some Incidents in the Life of My Uncle Arly” here.

—Katie Bircher

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