The Owl and the Pussy-Cat
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
“O lovely Pussy! O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!”
This ‘nonsense’ poem, written by Edward Lear, first came out in 1871, which is pretty amazing given there were very few foreigners married to Filipinas back then and this poem has to be about this topic and the Philippines. Let’s examine it a bit closer, shall we? First off, there is a mixed race relationship going on between an owl and a pussycat. Basically the wise old owl barfines the young pussycat and takes her on a SuperFerry to another island. We know it is in the Pilipeens because of the garish pea green colour of the vessel; matches the curtains no doubt.
Further indications this is the Pinas is shown when we examine what they took with them. ‘Honey and plenty’, note plenty, ‘of money’. Has to be the Pinas as cash is king and try finding a working ATM. Of course the owl is a walking ATM himself, but I digress. What is really telling is that they wrap the money up in more money, indicating he is going to be going through a lot of the stuff wooing his pussycat! The guitar reference is of course a metaphor for the KTV Bar on the Sun Deck of the SuperFerry, anyone can figure that out.
Pussy said to the Owl, “You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?”
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-Tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose, His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.
Now we get to the real hard evidence! She can’t wait to get him hitched so she can start sending home money to her parents to pay for daily funerals of geriatric relatives and weekly run away carabaos and the many other emergencies that befall the average family with a Kano-so-in-law. The pig is really her boyfriend, but no doubt she introduces him as her cousin. He has a ring for sale, conveniently it might seem and all is ready for the ceremony.
“Dear Pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?” Said the Piggy, “I will.”
So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.
Now everyone knows the turkey who lives on the hill is the local mayor, a member of the ruling clan in the area and more than likely the person who owns the catering company that provided the mince and quince and other boring local delicacies. As for the runcible spoon, the mind only boggles.
This is unquestionably about living in the Philippines. The absurdity of a pig with a ring in its nose living conveniently in the forest just as the pussycat needs a ring to get married? The colour of the boat, the money wrapped in money and the turkey officiating… you gotta feel sorry for the bleeding owl is all I can say!Published in