When I was a very small child there was an ad on TV, I was far to young to know what it was for, that featured a young mother reading aloud to her child. Her voice was beautiful and haunting, and these were the words she said:
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.
I did not know the meanings of all the words, but I loved the sound of ‘mince’, and of ‘slices of quince’, and I long pondered the great mystery of how a spoon could be runcible. It was clear, whoever these dancing people were, that they were very happy.
It would be quite a few years before I learned that “they” were an owl and a pussycat very much in love, and that I was hearing the work of Edward Lear, born 200 years ago today.
The feeling I had as a small child hearing these magical words, learning that there can be deep and powerful meaning even in the sound of things, has never left me. I suspect it contributed to my love of poetry, and perhaps even a bit to my love of the moon. I also suspect that the work of Edward Lear has had a similarly profound and lovely effect on the minds and souls of children for many generations.
Happy birthday Mr. Lear, and thank you.