Top nonsense teaching tip from Toxic Childhood expert Sue Palmer

The amazing Sue Palmer has been variously an inspirational  primary headteacher (who taught one of my friends as a wee girl),  involved in the National Literacy Strategy and now writes and lectures worldwide on childhood issues http://www.suepalmer.co.uk/ 
We asked Sue what she would do to celebrate Edward Lear and she told us about another of his fabulous nonsense poems:

Sue says about Edward Lear’s  birthday celebrations: “Great idea. The Dong With The Lumionous Nose makes a amazing performance poem for Y3 or Y4 9 (around 7 to 8 years old).” 

“My class divided it up into parts for choral recitation, made costumes and props, practised like mad and we did it for an assembly.”

“It went so well we were asked back to do it again the next week.  (I can still hear them…. ‘The D–o–ng, the D–o–ng…’)”  So a great idea for teaching “The Owl and Pussycat” as well … Thanks Sue!

Here’s the luminous nose text for you:

 When  awful darkness and silence reign
Over the great Gromboolian plain,
  Through the long, long wintry nights;–
When the angry breakers roar
As they beat on the rocky shore;–
  When Storm-clouds brood on the towering heights
Of the Hills of the Chankly Bore:–

Then, through the vast and gloomy dark,
There moves what seems a fiery spark,
  A lonely spark with silvery rays
  Piercing the coal-black night,–
  A Meteor strange and bright:–
Hither and thither the vision strays,
  A single lurid light.

Slowly it wanders,–pauses,–creeeps,–
Anon it sparkles,–flashes and leaps;
And ever as onward it gleaming goes
A light on the Bong-tree stems it throws.
And those who watch at that midnight hour
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as the wild light passes along,–
    ‘The Dong!–the Dong!
  ‘The wandering Dong through the forest goes!
    ‘The Dong! the Dong!
  ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!’

    Long years ago
  The Dong was happy and gay,
Till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl
  Who came to those shores one day,
For the Jumblies came in a sieve, they did,–
Landing at eve near the Zemmery Fidd
    Where the Oblong Oysters grow,
  And the rocks are smooth and gray.
And all the woods and the valleys rang
With the Chorus they daily and nightly sang,–
    ‘Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.’

Happily, happily passed those days!
    While the cheerful Jumblies staid;
  They danced in circlets all night long,
  To the plaintive pipe of the lively Dong,
    In moonlight, shine, or shade.
For day and night he was always there
By the side of the Jumbly Girl so fair,
With her sky-blue hands, and her sea-green hair.
Till the morning came of that hateful day
When the Jumblies sailed in their sieve away,
And the Dong was left on the cruel shore
Gazing–gazing for evermore,–
Ever keeping his weary eyes on
That pea-green sail on the far horizon,–
Singing the Jumbly Chorus still
As he sate all day on the grassy hill,–
    ‘Far and few, far and few,
    Are the lands where the Jumblies live;
    Their heads are green, and their hands are blue
    And they went to sea in a sieve.’

But when the sun was low in the West,
  The Dong arose and said;–
–’What little sense I once possessed
  ‘Has quite gone out of my head!’–
And since that day he wanders still
By lake or forest, marsh and hill,
Singing–’O somewhere, in valley or plain
‘Might I find my Jumbly Girl again!
‘For ever I’ll seek by lake and shore
‘Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!’

    Playing a pipe with silvery squeaks,
    Since then his Jumbly Girl he seeks,
    And because by night he could not see,
    He gathered the bark of the Twangum Tree
      On the flowery plain that grows.
      And he wove him a wondrous Nose,–
    A Nose as strange as a Nose could be!
Of vast proportions and painted red,
And tied with cords to the back of his head.
    –In a hollow rounded space it ended
    With a luminous Lamp within suspended,
      All fenced about
      With a bandage stout
      To prevent the wind from blowing it out;–
    And with holes all round to send the light,
    In gleaming rays on the dismal night.

And now each night, and all night long,
Over those plains still roams the Dong;
And above the wall of the Chimp and Snipe
You may hear the sqeak of his plaintive pipe
While ever he seeks, but seeks in vain
To meet with his Jumbly Girl again;
Lonely and wild–all night he goes,–
The Dong with a luminous Nose!
And all who watch at the midnight hour,
From Hall or Terrace, or lofty Tower,
Cry, as they trace the Meteor bright,
Moving along through the dreary night,–
    ‘This is the hour when forth he goes,
    ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!
    ‘Yonder–over the plain he goes,
      ‘He goes!
      ‘He goes;
    ‘The Dong with a luminous Nose!’

More Lear Lyrics at http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ll/dln.html

More nonsense teaching ideas

If ever a poem deserved to have more pictures as illustrations, or a fantastic map drawn for it or a travel diary, or postcards home from the Dong? (The poem’s author Edward Lear was a great traveller and landscape painter too).

With the Owl and the Pussycat, The Dong and The Jumblies as great travellers and explorers, you might want to list and discuss more sensible things to take on a journey

Jumbly Girl? Jumbly Chorus?  check out my other favourite Lear poem (and strange sea journey) The Jumblies http://www.nonsenselit.org/Lear/ns/jumblies.html 

Warning – do not attempt any sea journeys in a sieve! Why not? There’s a Physics or Science lesson idea hidden in there somewhere, how to waterproof a sieve.

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