The Table and the Chair (Edward Lear)

One of my favourite verses for reading aloud (or reciting) to young children is Edward Lear’s “The Table and the Chair”. I, and my daughters, were so fond of it, that I long ago had it firmly fixed in memory, and have often drawn on it, when wanting something for a new listener with no book supply available to hand.

The only real disadvantage of this choice as a bedtime verse, for young girls who really did not want to retire, was that the closing line is so pointed – I was seldom allowed actually voice it. More usually, young hands would be marshalled just before we got there, to cover my mouth and so forestall the dreaded words “…..and toddled to their beds”.

Said the Table to the Chair,
‘You can hardly be aware,
‘How I suffer from the heat,
‘And from chilblains on my feet!
‘If we took a little walk,
‘We might have a little talk!
‘Pray let us take the air!’
Said the Table to the Chair.

Said the Chair to the table,
‘Now you know we are not able!
‘How foolishly you talk,
‘When you know we cannot walk!’
Said the Table with a sigh,
‘It can do no harm to try,
‘I’ve as many legs as you,
‘Why can’t we walk on two?’

So they both went slowly down,
And walked about the town
With a cheerful bumpy sound,
As they toddled round and round.
And everybody cried,
As they hastened to the side,
‘See! the Table and the Chair
‘Have come out to take the air!’

But in going down an alley,
To a castle in a valley,
They completely lost their way,
And wandered all the day,
Till, to see them safetly back,
They paid a Ducky-quack,
And a Beetle, and a Mouse,
Who took them to their house.

Then they whispered to each other,
‘O delightful little brother!
‘What a lovely walk we’ve taken!
‘Let us dine on Beans and Bacon!’
So the Ducky and the leetle
Browny-Mousy and the Beetle
Dined and danced upon their heads
Till they toddled to their beds.

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