The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

by Edward Lear

I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”

II

Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.

III

“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,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

Summary of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat

  • Popularity of “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat”: Written by Edward Lear, a famous British artist and poet, “The Owl and a Pussy Cat” is a nonsensical poem of English literature. It was first published in 1871 in a book, Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets. The poem comprises the love of Owl and Pussy Cat who get married in a strange place where Bon trees grow. The popularity of the poem lies in the fact that it deals with a nonsensical idea in an extraordinary way.
  • “The Owl and the Pussy-Cat” as a Representative of Love and Merriment: As this poem is about love, the poet shows deep affection and attachment of Owl and Pussy Cat who tie a knot in a strange land where there is happiness all around. The writer has used different animals in this lyrical poem and has given them human qualities to convey a deep message that a person, belonging to any race, caste, and creed can fall in love. He also implies that love is a free bird and it can sing its song anywhere. However, what enchants the reader is the true love of owl and cat that unites them.
  • Major Themes in “Owl and the Pussy Cat”: Love, marriage, and joy are some of the major themes of the poem. The writer has used his imagination to create a world where there is no sorrow, suffering or obstacles. The two-way conversation helps the readers understand how the world of happiness can help lovers even if they are not compatible in other ways. In this world, the two lovers are free to enter. It offers them a permanent joy and lifelong companionship.

Analysis of Literary Devices in “Owl and the Pussy Cat”

Literary devices are tools used by the writers to make their texts unique and appealing. Edward has also used literary devices in this poem to show the love of  Owl and Pussy Cat. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been discussed below.

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /p/ and /l/ “O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love”.
  2. Personification: Personification is to attribute human qualities to inanimate things. Edward has used this device throughout the poem to present the Owl and the Pussy cat as humans. They dance, sing, get married and also praise each other just like humans. For example, “And sang to a small guitar”; “They danced by the light of the moon” and “Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl.”
  3. Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings different from literal meanings. A beautiful “pea green boat” symbolizes their hope and new life. Dancing in the “moonlight” represents happiness and ultimate joy and “bong trees” are the symbols of fantasy land.
  4. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /h/ in “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea” and the sound of /y/ in “O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love.”
  5. Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the different objects. “Owl and Pussy cat” both are the metaphors of humans, but they are not humans.
  6. Enjambment: Enjambment refers to the continuation of the idea in a sentence without a pause beyond the end of a line, couplet or stanza such as,

“And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose.”

  1. Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /o/ in “They took some honey, and plenty of money.” and /e/ sound in “O let us be married! Too long we have tarried.”
  2. Imagery: Imagery is used to make the readers perceive things with their five senses. Edward has used visual imagery to show the happiness of an owl, and a pussycat such as “The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea” They took some honey, and plenty of money” and “And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood, with a ring at the end of his nose.”

The literary analysis shows that Edward has skillfully projected aplenty of literary elements to discuss his imaginative world where there are happiness and joy everywhere.

Analysis of poetic devices in “Owl and the Pussy Cat”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are three stanzas in this poem, each varies in its length.
  2. Limerick: A Limerick is a short humorous and nonsense poem especially with a five-line anapest meter. With a strict rhyme scheme. However, in this poem, the first and the last lines usually end with the same words rather than rhyming.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The rhyme scheme is ABCB DEFE, and this pattern continues throughout the poem.
  4. Internal rhyme: Internal rhyme is a rhyme within a line such as, “And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood”, “And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand” and “O let us be married! Too long we have tarried”. Here “wood” “stood”, “hand”, “sand”, “married” and “tarried” are the examples of internal rhyme.
  5. End rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the poem melodious. End rhyme occurs within the second and third lines and again within the second and fourth lines. The rhyming words are, “boat”, and “note” “love” and “above.”
  6. Refrain: The lines that are repeated again at some distance in the poems are called refrain. For example, the lines, “They danced by the light of the moon” and “With a ring at the end of his nose” are repeated with the same words, it has become a refrain.

Quotes to be Used

These lines can be used when teaching a rhyme. The below lines can also be used as an example when teaching children about what people do before traveling or going on a picnic.

“The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.”

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