The Dong with a Luminous Nose

Original Text: 
Edward Lear, Laughable Lyrics: A Fourth Book of Nonsense Poems, Songs, Botany, Music, &c. (London: Robert John Bush, 1877). Unpaginated. In The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books 1566-1910, comp. Judith St. John (Toronto: Toronto Public Library, 1975), I.70.
1When awful darkness and silence reign
2Over the great Gromboolian plain,
3    Through the long, long wintry nights; --
4When the angry breakers roar
5As they beat on the rocky shore; --
6    When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
7Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore: --
8Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
9There moves what seems a fiery spark,
10    A lonely spark with silvery rays
11        Piercing the coal-black night, --
12        A Meteor strange and bright: --
13    Hither and thither the vision strays,
14        A single lurid light.
15Slowly it wander, -- pauses, -- creeps, --
16Anon it sparkles, -- flashes and leaps;
17And ever as onward it gleaming goes
18A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
19And those who watch at that midnight hour
20From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
21Cry, as the wild light passes along, --
22        "The Dong! -- the Dong!
23    "The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
24        "The Dong! the Dong!
25    "The Dong with a luminous Nose!"
26        Long years ago
27    The Dong was happy and gay,
28Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
29    Who came to those shores one day.
30For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did, --
31Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
32        Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
33And the rocks are smooth and gray.
34And all the woods and the valleys rang
35With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang, --
36        "Far and few, far and few,
37        Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
38        Their heads are green, and the hands are blue
39        And they went to sea in a sieve.
40Happily, happily passed those days!
41        While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
42    They danced in circlets all night long,
43    To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
44        In moonlight, shine, or shade.
45For day and night he was always there
46By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
47With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
48Till the morning came of that hateful day
49When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
50And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
51Gazing -- gazing for evermore, --
52Ever keeping his weary eyes on
53That pea-green sail on the far horizon, --
54Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
55As he sate all day on the grassy hill, --
56        "Far and few, far and few,
57        Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
58        Their heads are green, and the hands are blue
59        And they went to sea in a sieve.
60But when the sun was low in the West,
61    The Dong arose and said;
62-- "What little sense I once possessed
63    Has quite gone out of my head!" --
64And since that day he wanders still
65By lake and dorest, marsh and hills,
66Singing -- "O somewhere, in valley or plain
67"Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
68"For ever I'll seek by lake and shore
69"Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!"
70    Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
71    Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
72    And because by night he could not see,
73    He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
74        On the flowery plain that grows.
75        And he wove him a wondrous Nose, --
76    A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
77Of vast proportions and painted red,
78And tied with cords to the back of his head.
79    -- In a hollow rounded space it ended
80    With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
81        All fenced about
82        With a bandage stout
83        To prevent the wind from blowing it out; --
84    And with holes all round to send the light,
85    In gleaming rays on the dismal night.
86And now each night, and all night long,
87Over those plains still roams the Dong;
88And above the wail of the Chimp and Snipe
89You may hear the squeak of his plaintive pipe
90While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
91To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
92Lonely and wild -- all night he goes, --
93The Dong with a luminous Nose!
94And all who watch at the midnight hour,
95From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
96Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
97Moving along through the dreary night, --
98    "This is the hour when forth he goes,
99    "The Dong with a luminous Nose!
100    "Yonder -- over the plain he goes;
101        "He goes!
102        "He goes;
103    "The Dong with a luminous Nose!"
Publication Start Year: 
1877
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.