The Quangle Wangle’s Hat Summary by Edward Lear

Edward Lear (13 May 1812- 29 January 1888): Edward Lear belonged to the Victorian age. But unlike his contemporary author and poets, his writings were not meant for serious readers. He wrote for children, using the form of literary nonsense in his poetries and prose. Born to a London stockbroker; Jeremiah Lear (who was bankrupted around 1825), Lear was raised by women, especially by his sister Ann. The second youngest of twenty-one children, Lear was educated at home.

He is known for publicizing the Literary Nonsense as a genre and a form. In 1846, he published his first volume of verse A Book of Nonsense. His other published works include Nonsense Botany, Nonsense Songs and Stories, More Nonsense songs, Pictures and Laughable Lyrics. His writings are distinguished by his use of neologisms, humour and perfect rhythm. His writings are still popular among children.

Introduction to the Poem: Lear is known to write nursery rhymes and comic lament. The poem, The Quangle Wangle’s Hat, is also a comic lament. As is known from the biography of Lear, the poet himself was a loner and so was his ‘Quangle Wangle’. However, considering the fact that Lear was also known for his musical composition of Tennyson’s poetries, one finds the echo of the latter’s poetic style in the former’s writings. Yet, this could be overlooked as a mere case of inspiration as unlike Tennyson’s, Lear’s poetries were full of humour and a fun-rhythm of its own.

This particular poem is a narrative of a lonesome ‘Quangle Wangle’ wearing a ‘Beaver Hat’. His lonesomeness comes to an end when all these different creatures approaches him with the request of building their ‘homes on his lovely Hat.’ Here is a line by line summary of Wangle’s Hat by Edward Lear.

The Quangle Wangle’s Hat Summary by Edward Lear

Stanza 1:

On the top of the Crumpetty Tree

The Quangle Wangle Sat,

But his face you could not see,

On Account of his Beaver Hat.

For his Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,

With ribbons and bibbons on every side

And bells, and buttons, and loops, and lace.

So that nobody ever could see the face

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Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

 The first stanza of the poem builds the background of the poetic narration. In the first two lines, the poet introduces his protagonist, ‘The Quangle Wangle’ and describes the unusual place where he sits, that is, ‘On the top of the Crumpetty Tree.’ Crumpet is a griddle cake made from flour and yeast. Thus, the word ‘Crumpetty Tree’ gives an air of unusual playfulness to the tone of the poem. In the third line of this stanza, however, the poet directly refers to his readers by addressing them as ‘You’ with which he (the poet) also affirms his presence as a narrator. ‘But his face you could not see,/ On account of his Beaver Hat.’

This lines tends to inform the readers that the ‘Quangle Wangle’ is wearing a ‘Beaver Hat’ which will serve as a curtain, making it difficult for the readers to see his (Quangle Wangle’s) face. Also, the capitalization of the word ‘Beaver Hat’ drives the reader’s attention giving the word a sense of eminence. The poet further, reasons out his readers by stating that the ‘Hat was a hundred and two feet wide,’ which is also an instance of the use of hyperbole by the poet. In the next two lines, the poet uses alliterations to give it a feel of layman’s speech. Generally, we tend to use the words like ‘ribbons and bibbons’ just as a way of talking rather than for any kind of meaningful weight that the words may hold. In the last two lines of the stanza, the poet confirms that it is just not the readers but ‘nobody ever could see the face/ Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.’

Stanza 2:

The Quangle Wangle said

To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,-

“Jam; and jelly; and bread;

“Are the best of food for me!

“But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree

“The plainer than ever it seems to me

“That very few people come this way

“And that life on the whole is far from gay!”

Said the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The second stanza begins with the monologue of ‘The Quangle Waangle’, where he says that ehe has ‘the best of food’ to eat, which means that he is living a comfortable life.

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‘But the longer I live on this Crumpetty Tree/ The plainer than ever it seems to me’. In these two lines, the poet through the monologue of Quangle Wangle makes his readers aware of the lonesomeness of his protagonist. While in the next two lines, the Quangle Wangle says that he is lonely because ‘very few people come this way’ and though he is living a comfortable life yet, his ‘life on the whole is far from gay!’

Stanza 3:

But there came to the Crumpetty Tree,

Mr. and Mrs. Canary;

And they said,- “Did ever you see

“Any spot so charmingly airy?

“May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?

“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!

“O please let us come and build a nest

“Of whatever material suits you best,

“Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

In this stanza, the narration moves a little forward. Two new characters, that is, Mr. and Mrs. Canary” approaches the Quangle Wangle saying, “May we build a nest on your lovely Hat?” They are amazed to see the beautiful big Hat of the Quangle Wangle as the lines “Did ever you see/ Any spot so charmingly airy?” suggests. In the last four lines, Mr. and Mrs. Canary are requesting Mr. Quangle Wangle to “grant us (them) that!” to let them “come and build a nest on his Hat.

Stanza 4:

And besides, to the Crumpetty Tree

Came the Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;

The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,

The Frog, and the Fimble Fowl;

(The Fimble Fowl, with a corkscrew leg;)

And all of them said,- “We humbly beg,

“We may build out homes on your lovely Hat,-

“Mr. Quangle Wangle, grant us that!

“Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee!”

In the fourth stanza, many more creatures like the “Stork, the Duck, and the Owl;/ The Snail, and the Bumble-Bee,/ The Frog,and the Fimble Fowl;” all came to beg him grant them the permission to build their “homes on” his “lovely Hat”.

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Stanza 5:

And the Golden Grouse came there,

And the Pobble who has no toes,-

And the small Olympian bear,-

And the Dong with a luminous nose,

And the Blue Baboon, who played the Flute,-

And the Orient Calf from the Land of Tute,-

And the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat,-

All came and built on the lovely Hat

Of the Quangle Wangle Quee.

This stanza introduces many other characters like “the Golden Grouse”,”the Pobble”,”the small Olympian bear”, ”the Dong”, “the Blue Baboon”, “the Orient Calf”, “the Attery Squash, and the Bisky Bat,-/ All came and built on the lovely Hat”. The many characters mentioned in this stanza like “the Dong with a luminous nose”, are references to the characters from his other poems which might also that the characters who left to never return has finally returned home to make a stay.

Stanza 6:

And the Quangle Wangle said,

To himself on the Crumpetty Tree,-

“When all these creatures move

“What a wonderful noise there’ll be!”

And at night by the light of the Mulberry moon

They danced to the Flute of the Blue Baboon,

On the broad green leaves of the Crumpetty Tree,

And all were as happy as happy could be,

With the Quangle Wangle Quee.

The sixth stanza, that is also a closing stanza, also begins with another monologue of the Quangle Wangle. He is happy about the thought of hearing noises around him now as all these creatures has settled down on his Hat. He is no longer lonely expresses his happiness and wonderment in the lines “When all these creatures move/ What a wonderful noise there’ll be!” In the next lines, the poet creates an atmosphere of merriment as the lines “They danced on the Flute of the Blue Baboon”. The poem ends with a statement that they are all happy on the Crumpetty Tree. But most importantly, they are all happy “With the Quangle Wangle Quee”. Hope you enjoyed reading the summary The Quangle Wangle. To check out the analysis you can follow this link.

Contributor: Smita