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,
-The Owl and the Pussycat, Edward Lear
Mince, quince, runcible spoon….and don’t forget the Bong-tree! Isn’t it funny how we can know a nursery rhyme so well, grow up with it, and yet we have no clue what it means? Maybe at heart we are just magnets for nonsense. I’ve just been looking into creating words and it says, while it is considered natural for children, it can be seen as a thought disorder in adults. *crickets chirp…*
Anyway here is the breakdown of words:
Quince: A sour, pear like fruit. Often baked, roasted or stewed.
Mince: Finely chopped food.
Bong-tree: No description. But it makes me think of South American silk floss trees with their bulging stomachs or African baobab trees (they are cousins by the way).
Runcible spoon: Just a no-meaning word when Edward Lear first used this word. Nowadays it can be a spork–a spoon with fork-like prongs at the end, or a combination of a spoon and fork with a sharp edge like a knife. However in another rhyme by Edward Lear, a duck catches a frog on one of these spoons, and an image accompanies the nursery rhyme, where the spoon was simply a long spoon.