On Bawdy Limericks and Edward Lear (again)

From the Vaughan Williams Foundation website:

Letter from Ralph Vaughan Williams to Ursula Wood

Letter No.: VWL1485

From R. Vaughan Williams,
The White Gates,
Westcott Road,

[3 February 1940]

My Dear

I went and got a Lear1 at once – it is a good book – but I wish he2 wd not call them “Limericks” – I feel sure he wd have hated the word – a Limerick is an indecent poem in the same metre as the Lear nonsense rhymes.
I’d often thought of setting the Pobble3 to music – its one of the most mysteriously romantic poems I know.
Have you read the prose nonsense story4 – its superb – I did not know it before.5
The wedding6 is next Sat. (10th) – I am told the bridegroom has a pretty sister so I am all agog.
Love from


1. According to R.V.W.:a biography, p.233, this was a paperback edition of some of Edward Lear’s writings. it was possibly Edward Lear’s Nonsense Songs, with the Author’s Own Illustrations, an edition published by Chatto & Windus in 1938.
2. i.e. the editor, not the author
3. The Pobble who has no toes, one of the Lear poems.
4. The story of the four little children who went round the world  by Lear.
5. The letter up to this point is quoted in R.V.W.: a biography, p.233.
6. Probably that of Honorine Williamson (see R.V.W.: a biography, p.232 and VWL686 footnote 3, etc.). She had lived with the VWs ever since the move to Dorking and was to marry the trumpeter Bernard Brown.

I have been unable to find any setting of Lear’s poems by Vaughan Williams.

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