ChapterHow Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear

The poem How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear talks about the life of an old man. It is presented in a humorous ironic manner in the poem. All you need to know and learn about this chapter is given below.

Meet the Author

  • Edward Lear is an English poet known for word play in his works.
  • Born: 12 May 1812
  • Place of Birth: Holloway, England.
  • Died: 29 January 1888
  • Major Works: ‘A Book of Nonsense’ & ‘The Owl and the Pussy Cat’.
  • Best Known For: The poet started off his career as an illustrator and later went to get his first book published at the age of 19. He is most celebrated for his contributions into the category of nonsense literature.
A Drawing done by Writer Edward Lear
One of Edward Lear's Drawings

Summary of the Poem

The poet is delighted to know Mr. Lear who has written volumes of work. From the poem we can understand that Mr Lear is a writer who has already written and published a humongous amount of work.

Some tend to call him ‘ill-tempered’ and ‘queer’ while others find them ‘pleasant’. There are multiple and various opinions on the person from the public. The poet then goes on to describe and narrate about his physical appearance and his mental condition.

His mind is said to be concrete and mysterious in the poem. It means that he thinks very practically. He has got a remarkably big nose, that makes him look not so pleasant. The poet compares his beard to that of a wig. Like any other human being he has also got two ears, two eyes, ten fingers including two thumbs.

As we move forward we get to know more about his livelihood and interests. He used to be a singer but now he is just dumb. He has friends among the layman and clerical level. This implies that he is good and well versed in dealing with people from different backgrounds and social class. He has got a pet cat and its name is ‘Old Foss’.

Later the poet again goes on to describe his physical appearance. Mr Lear is said to have a perfectly spherical body. And he wears a runcible hat. The word ‘runcible’ is a nonsensical word created by the poet to bring in the effect. It does not contain meaning.

Soon the poet gives a glimpse into Lear’s mental condition. We understand from the poem that Mr Lear goes to the side of the oceans and on top of the hill to weep. Mr Lear’s usual grocery shopping will include pancakes, lotions and chocolate shrimps from the mill.

Sketch from the Book The Owl and the Pussycat
Famous Sketch from the Book The Owl and the Pussycat, Written by Edward Lear

Even though he can read Spanish cannot speak the language. He hates Ginger beer. The poet concludes the poem by mentioning Lear's upcoming pilgrim days. A pilgrimage is usually undertaken in old age to have a peaceful death. The last two lines are a direct implication of his old age and his journey to death.

The poem touches upon the physical, mental, emotional and social conditions of the character in a humorous manner. The poet can be seen to be doing a self portrait or rather self analysis through the poem.

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Bonus Info

Nonsense literature:

Literary nonsense is a category in English literature in which elements that make sense and elements that do not make sense are balanced out in the writing. In nonsense literature the idea of common sense is often denied. A parallel universe with manipulated or specially created words comes into existence.

For example in the poem the word runcible is created by the author.

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How Pleasant to Know Mr. Lear Questions and Answers

Below are a few questions that you can look out for your examinations and class tests. Stand out with perfectly written answers with help of Aneetta Class.

People assume that Mr. Lear is ill tempered due to his appearance.

From the poet we can infer that the poet is completely aware of his mortality as he is planning to take his pilgrimage. The last two lines of the poem are evidence for this.

Mr Lear goes up to the hill and by the side of the ocean he is lonely and sensitive.