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愛德華·李爾(Edward Lear,1812—1888)以寫nonsense poems出名。這裡的nonsense poems在中文裡很不好翻譯,翻作「無意識的詩」固然不對,翻作「打油詩」、「滑稽詩」也不十分恰當,姑且譯作「諧趣詩」吧。我從前有過一本他的The Book of Nonsense,在抗日戰爭中跟別的一些書一塊兒丟了。

1 愛德華·李爾 -人物介紹

十多年前在舊書店裡買到一本企鵝叢書版的《愛德華·李爾傳》,作者戴維森(Angus Davidson),劍橋大學出身,翻譯過幾本義大利小說。他寫這本《李爾傳》,參考了李爾本人的部分日記和大量書信,寫得相當詳細。這本《李爾傳》是1938年出版的。查15版的《不列顛百科全書》,李爾的標準傳記是1968年出版的Vivian Noakes寫的《愛德華·李爾:一個漫遊者的一生》。

李爾的祖先是丹麥人,姓Lфr,他祖父遷居英國,把姓的拼寫法改了,就跟莎土比亞劇本里的李爾王同姓了。他的父親是個股票商,在愛德華13歲的時候,他父親破產入獄,4年以後還清債務被釋放,遷居鄉下,不久就死了。愛德華他們弟兄姊妹共有19人,有幾個沒長大。他大姐安妮比他大21歲,一輩子沒結婚,愛德華是她一手帶大的,名為姐弟,無異母子。李爾中年以後,旅居國外的時候為多,兩星期給姐姐一封信,講他的生活,他的見聞,他的病痛,從未間斷。

2 愛德華·李爾 -英文原文

Edward Lear (12 May 1812 - 29 January 1888) was an artist, illustrator and writer known for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks, a form which he popularised. He was born in Highgate, a suburb of London, the 20th child of his parents and raised by his eldest sister, Ann, twenty-one years his senior. At the age of fifteen, he and his sister had to leave the family home and set up house together. He started work as a serious illustrator and his first publication, at the age of 19, was Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots in 1830. His paintings were well received and he was favorably compared with Audubon. Throughout his life he continued to paint seriously. He had a lifelong ambition to illustrate Tennyson's poems; near the end of his life a volume with a small number of illustrations was published, but his vision for the work was never realised.

The Owl and the PUSSY CAT
a poem by Edward Lear


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!"

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.

"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.

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