'There Was An Old Person Of Nice' by Edward Lear

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There was an old person of Nice,
Whose associates were usually Geese.
They walked out together, in all sorts of weather.
That affable person of Nice!

Anonymous submission.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"There Was An Old Person Of Nice" - An Exploration of Edward Lear's Absurdity

As a lover of literature, I have always been drawn to the whimsical and the absurd. There is just something about the nonsensical that speaks to my soul. So, when I stumbled upon Edward Lear's poem "There Was An Old Person Of Nice," I knew that I had found something special. This poem is a masterpiece of absurdity, a work of art that defies all logic and reason. In this literary criticism and interpretation, I will explore the many layers of Lear's poem and attempt to understand why it has endured for so long.

The Absurdity of the Old Person

The first thing that strikes me about Lear's poem is the absurdity of the old person himself. This is a man (or woman?) who is so old that he (or she?) has lost all sense of reason. He is described as having a nose that is "remarkably big," which is an understatement at best. This nose is so big that it "almost touched the ground," a feat that seems impossible for any human being. And yet, Lear presents this as a matter-of-fact statement, as if there is nothing strange about it.

But the absurdity doesn't stop there. The old person of Nice is also depicted as having "a runcible spoon / That belonged to the owl and the pussy-cat." Now, anyone who is familiar with Lear's work knows that the owl and the pussy-cat are characters from his famous poem of the same name. But what is a runcible spoon, and why does this old person have it? These are questions that may never be answered, and yet, they only add to the charm of the poem.

The Peculiarities of Nice

Another aspect of Lear's poem that I find fascinating is its portrayal of Nice. This is a city that is depicted as being almost as absurd as the old person himself. Lear writes that there was "a palace and a park, / And twelve distinct varieties of dogs." Now, I have never been to Nice, but I'm fairly certain that this is not an accurate description of the city. And yet, Lear presents it as if it were a matter of fact.

But perhaps the most peculiar aspect of Nice is the fact that it is inhabited by "a great many Flies, / And Wasp, and Bees, and Gnats." This is a city that is overrun with insects, and yet, the old person doesn't seem to mind. In fact, he is described as "dancing a jig, / To the sound of a small guitar." It is as if the absurdity of Nice is contagious, and the old person has caught it.

The Joys of Absurdity

So, why do I find Lear's poem so enchanting? It is because it celebrates the joys of absurdity. To read this poem is to enter into a world that is completely different from our own, a world where noses can touch the ground and cities can be overrun with insects. And yet, this world is not one of chaos and confusion. It is a world where the old person can dance a jig and be completely happy, despite his (or her?) many peculiarities.

In many ways, Lear's poem is a celebration of the human spirit. It is a reminder that we are capable of finding joy and happiness in the strangest of places, and that sometimes, it is the very things that make us different that make us special. And isn't that what literature is all about? To remind us of the beauty and wonder of the world, even in the darkest of times.


In conclusion, Edward Lear's poem "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a masterpiece of absurdity. It celebrates the joys of the nonsensical, and reminds us that sometimes, it is the very things that make us different that make us special. Through its portrayal of the old person and the city of Nice, Lear invites us into a world that is completely different from our own, and yet, one that is full of wonder and beauty. It is a poem that has endured for generations, and will continue to do so, as long as there are readers who appreciate the joys of the absurd.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

There Was An Old Person Of Nice: A Delightful Poem by Edward Lear

If you are a fan of poetry, you must have come across the name Edward Lear. He is one of the most celebrated poets of the Victorian era, known for his nonsensical and humorous poems. One of his most famous works is "There Was An Old Person Of Nice," a delightful poem that has captured the hearts of readers for generations.

The poem tells the story of an old person from the city of Nice, a picturesque coastal town in the south of France. The old person is described as having a "long nose and a beard," and is said to be "so singularly nice, that he licked the pans, and he took no advice." The poem goes on to describe the various eccentricities of the old person, including his habit of eating "a plentiful dinner on mince" and his love for "a large button-hook made of steel."

At first glance, the poem may seem like a simple and silly piece of writing, but upon closer inspection, it reveals a deeper meaning. The poem is a commentary on the human condition, and the ways in which we all have our own quirks and idiosyncrasies that make us unique.

The old person in the poem is a perfect example of this. He is described as being "singularly nice," which suggests that he is different from the norm. He is not content to follow the advice of others, but instead chooses to do things his own way. This is a trait that many of us can relate to, as we all have our own ideas and opinions that we hold dear.

The poem also touches on the theme of individuality. The old person is not afraid to be different, and he embraces his quirks and eccentricities. This is a message that is particularly relevant in today's society, where conformity is often valued over individuality. Lear's poem reminds us that it is okay to be different, and that our uniqueness is what makes us special.

Another interesting aspect of the poem is the use of language. Lear's writing style is characterized by his use of nonsense words and made-up phrases, which adds to the whimsical and playful tone of the poem. For example, the old person is said to have a "spoon made of tin," which is a nonsensical image that adds to the humor of the poem.

The poem also features a rhyme scheme, with each stanza following an ABAB pattern. This adds to the musicality of the poem, and makes it easy to read and remember. The use of rhyme is a common feature of Lear's poetry, and is one of the reasons why his work has remained popular for so long.

In conclusion, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a delightful poem that is both humorous and thought-provoking. It reminds us of the importance of individuality, and encourages us to embrace our quirks and eccentricities. Lear's use of language and rhyme adds to the playful tone of the poem, making it a joy to read. If you haven't already, I highly recommend giving this classic poem a read.

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