Our mother was the Pussy-cat, our father was the Owl,
And so we’re partly little beasts and partly little fowl,
The brothers of our family have feathers and they hoot,
While all the sisters dress in fur and have long tails to boot.
We all believe that little mice,
For food are singularly nice.
Our mother died long years ago. She was a lovely cat
Her tail was 5 feet long, and grey with stripes, but what of that?
In Sila forest on the East of fair Calabria’s shore
She tumbled from a lofty tree — none ever saw her more.
Our owly father long was ill from sorrow and surprise,
But with the feathers of his tail he wiped his weeping eyes.
And in the hollow of a tree in Sila’s inmost maze
We made a happy home and there we pass our obvious days.
From Reggian Cosenza many owls about us flit
And bring us worldly news for which we do not care a bit.
We watch the sun each morning rise, beyond Tarento’s strait;
We go out before it gets too late;
And when the evening shades begin to lengthen from the trees
as sure as bees is bees.
We wander up and down the shore
Or tumble over head and heels, but never, never more
Can see the far Gromboolian plains
Or weep as we could once have wept o’er many a vanished scene:
This is the way our father moans — he is so very green.
Our father still preserves his voice, and when he sees a star
He often sings to that original guitar.
The pot in which our parents took the honey in their boat,
But all the money has been spent, beside the £5 note.
The owls who come and bring us nows are often
Because we take no interest in poltix of the day.)
[from The Faber Book of Nonsense Verse, edited by Geoffrey Grigson; first published in 1938 in Davidson’s Edward Lear.]