'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!

Editor 1 Interpretation

"There Was An Old Person Of Nice" by Edward Lear: A Masterpiece of Nonsense Poetry

Are you a fan of nonsense poetry? Do you enjoy reading verses that make you laugh, scratch your head, and wonder what the author was smoking when they wrote them? If so, you're in for a treat, because I'm going to introduce you to one of the finest examples of this genre: "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" by Edward Lear.

Edward Lear, for those who don't know, was a British artist, illustrator, and writer who lived in the 19th century. He is best known for his nonsense poems and limericks, which were characterized by their surreal imagery, absurd logic, and wordplay. "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is one of Lear's most famous works, and it's easy to see why. Let's take a closer look.

The Poem

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!

At first glance, this poem seems like a simple nonsense rhyme with no deeper meaning. We have an old person from Nice (a city in the south of France) who likes to hang out with geese. They go for walks together, rain or shine. That's it. But as we delve deeper into the poem, we start to see some interesting patterns and themes emerge.

The Structure

First of all, let's look at the structure of the poem. It's a quatrain, meaning it has four lines, and each line has a consistent rhythm and rhyme scheme. The first and third lines rhyme with each other, and the second and fourth lines rhyme with each other. This gives the poem a sing-song quality that makes it easy to remember and recite. It's also a common structure for nursery rhymes and children's poetry, which is fitting given the playful and whimsical tone of the poem.

The Meaning

But what does the poem actually mean? Is it just a silly rhyme about an old person and some geese, or is there something deeper going on? Let's look at some of the details.

First of all, we have the location: Nice. Why did Lear choose this particular city? Is there any significance to it? One possibility is that Nice is known for its mild climate and beautiful scenery, which could be a nod to the pleasant nature of the old person and their geese companions. It's also possible that Lear simply chose Nice because it rhymes with "Geese" and "weather." Either way, the choice of location adds a touch of specificity and realism to the poem, which makes the absurdity of the situation all the more striking.

Next, we have the geese. Why geese? Why not ducks, or pigeons, or any other bird? Geese have a reputation for being loud, aggressive, and territorial, which makes them an odd choice for friendly companions. However, they are also known for their loyalty, intelligence, and social behavior, which could be seen as positive qualities for the old person's friends. Additionally, geese are a common sight in parks and public spaces, so it's not too far-fetched to imagine an old person befriending a flock of them.

Then we have the fact that the old person and the geese "walk out together, in all sorts of weather." This implies a close bond between them, as well as a willingness to endure discomfort for the sake of companionship. It also highlights the theme of friendship and community, which is a common thread in Lear's work. Despite their different species and ages, the old person and the geese share a mutual affection and respect for each other.

Lastly, we have the word "affable" in the final line. This is a somewhat unusual word choice, as it means "friendly, good-natured, and easy to talk to." It's not a word you would typically associate with an old person or a flock of geese. However, it fits perfectly with the tone of the poem, which is light-hearted and cheerful. It also adds a touch of irony, as the old person's affability is contrasted with the oddity of their companions.

The Interpretation

So, what can we take away from all this? Is there any deeper meaning to "There Was An Old Person Of Nice," or is it just a silly rhyme with no real significance? I would argue that there is indeed something deeper going on here.

At its core, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a celebration of human-animal relationships and the power of friendship. It reminds us that we can find companionship and joy in unexpected places, and that sometimes the best friends are the ones who are unlike us in every way. The poem also highlights the absurdity and unpredictability of life, and encourages us to embrace the weirdness and embrace the nonsensical.

In this sense, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" can be seen as a form of absurdist literature, which challenges our conventional understanding of reality and encourages us to question our assumptions and beliefs. It's a reminder that the world is a strange and wonderful place, full of surprises and contradictions, and that we should approach it with an open mind and a sense of humor.

The Conclusion

In conclusion, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a masterpiece of nonsense poetry, full of whimsy, humor, and subtle meaning. It's a tribute to the power of friendship and the importance of embracing the absurdity of life, and it's a testament to the genius of Edward Lear, who was able to capture the essence of human-animal relationships in just four simple lines. Whether you're a fan of poetry, humor, or just good old-fashioned silliness, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a must-read. So go ahead and give it a try. Who knows? You might just find yourself walking out with a flock of geese yourself.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

The Quirky Tale of "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" by Edward Lear

If you're a fan of whimsical poetry, you've probably come across the works of Edward Lear. His poems are known for their playful language, nonsensical imagery, and quirky characters. One of his most famous works is "There Was An Old Person Of Nice," a delightful poem that tells the story of a curious old man and his peculiar habits.

The Story

The poem begins with the introduction of the titular character, an old person from the French city of Nice. The old person is described as having a "long nose and a beard," and he is known for his love of eating "rice." The poem then goes on to describe some of the old person's strange habits, such as his tendency to "dance a quadrille with a broom" and his habit of "playing tunes on a roasting-jack."

As the poem progresses, we learn more about the old person's quirks. He is known for his love of "eating peas with a knife," and he is also fond of "cutting his nails with a slice of bread." Despite his odd behavior, the old person is well-liked by the people of Nice, who enjoy his company and find him to be a source of entertainment.

The poem ends with a humorous twist. The old person is described as having a "great deal of wealth," but he is also known for his stinginess. He refuses to spend any of his money, even on necessities like food and clothing. As a result, he becomes very thin and frail, and eventually dies of starvation. The people of Nice are saddened by his passing, but they also find it amusing that he died because of his own stubbornness.

The Language

One of the things that makes "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" so delightful is its playful language. Lear uses a variety of poetic techniques to create a whimsical and lighthearted tone. For example, he uses alliteration to create a musical quality to the poem. The repetition of sounds like "long nose and a beard" and "playing tunes on a roasting-jack" adds to the poem's playful nature.

Lear also uses rhyme to create a sense of rhythm and structure. The poem follows an ABAB rhyme scheme, with each stanza ending in a rhyming couplet. This gives the poem a sing-song quality that makes it fun to read aloud.

In addition to alliteration and rhyme, Lear also uses repetition to create a sense of humor. The repeated phrase "There was an old person of Nice" becomes a sort of refrain throughout the poem, emphasizing the old person's importance and making him a central figure in the story.

The Themes

Despite its lighthearted tone, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" touches on some deeper themes. One of the most prominent themes is the idea of eccentricity. The old person is described as having many strange habits and quirks, but he is still well-liked by the people of Nice. This suggests that it's okay to be different and that people should be accepted for who they are, even if they don't conform to societal norms.

Another theme that emerges in the poem is the idea of greed and its consequences. The old person is described as having a great deal of wealth, but he refuses to spend any of it. This ultimately leads to his demise, as he dies of starvation. This suggests that greed can have serious consequences and that it's important to be generous and share one's wealth with others.


"There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a delightful poem that combines playful language with deeper themes. Lear's use of alliteration, rhyme, and repetition creates a whimsical tone that makes the poem fun to read aloud. At the same time, the poem touches on themes of eccentricity and greed, reminding us that it's important to accept others for who they are and to be generous with our resources. Overall, "There Was An Old Person Of Nice" is a charming and thought-provoking work that continues to delight readers of all ages.

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