The Owl and the Pussycat

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For the 1970 film, see The Owl and the Pussycat (film). For the film soundtrack, see The Owl and the Pussycat (album).
Edward Lear's illustration of the Owl and the Pussycat.

"The Owl and the Pussycat" is a nonsense poem by Edward Lear, first published during 1871 as part of his book Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets.

Lear wrote the poem for a three-year-old girl, Janet Symonds, the daughter of Lear's friend poet John Addington Symonds and his wife Catherine Symonds. The term "runcible", used for the phrase "runcible spoon", was invented for the poem.

First verse[edit]

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!

Second verse[edit]

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.

Third verse[edit]

"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.


"The Owl and the Pussycat" features four anthropomorphic animals – an owl, a cat, a pig, and a turkey – and tells the story of the love between the title characters who marry in the land "where the Bong-tree grows".

The Owl and the Pussycat set out to sea in a pea green boat with honey and "plenty of money" wrapped in a five-pound note. The Owl serenades the Pussycat while gazing at the stars and strumming on a small guitar. He describes her as beautiful. The Pussycat responds by describing the Owl as an "elegant fowl" and compliments him on his singing. She urges they marry but they don't have a ring. They sail away for a year and a day to a land where Bong trees grow and discover a pig with a ring in his nose in a wood. They buy the ring for a shilling and are married the next day by a turkey. They dine on mince and quince using a "runcible spoon", then dance hand-in-hand on the sand in the moonlight.

Portions of an unfinished sequel, "The Children of the Owl and the Pussycat" were published first posthumously, during 1938. How the pair procreated is unspecified but the children are part fowl and part cat. All love to eat mice. The family live round places with weird names where their mother the cat died falling from a tall tree. The death caused their father, the owl, great sadness. The money is all spent but father still sings to the original guitar.[1]

Other media[edit]

The "piggy-wig" in the land of Bong-trees.


  1. ^ The Children of the Owl and the Pussy-cat
  2. ^ Denis Stevens, A History of Song, The Norton Library 536 (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1970): 179. ISBN 0393005364.
  3. ^ [1] Details of the 45 rpm record of Elton Hayes' recordings of Edward Lear songs (accessed 7 October 2011)
  4. ^ "The Owl and the Pussycat Went to See...", the Ruskin/Wood play (accessed 8 February 2011).

External links[edit]