Silliness and Sadness
Lear, along with contemporaries such as Lewis Carroll, created a ludicrous world in which to express emotions otherwise too real. As a product of a restrictive Victorian age, his work showcases both human quirkiness and a disapproving “they" looking to shame the quirks.
There was an Old Man with a gong,
Who bumped at it all day long;
But they called out, 'O law!
You're a horrid old bore!'
So they smashed that Old Man with a gong.
Lear's work gave readers an alternative to more serious and studious material. He created a stage to pull humor from pain. He encouraged daydreaming. Surrealism and absurdist theater have roots in Learian nonsense. The characters and places in Lear's work are quite similar to those of Dr. Seuss.
My favorite twisted piece by Lear is almost, but not quite, a sonnet:
Cold are the Crabs
Cold are the crabs that crawl on yonder hills,
Colder the cucumbers that grow beneath,
And colder still the brazen chops that wreathe
The tedious gloom of philosophic pills!
For when the tardy film of nectar fills
The simple bowls of demons and of men,
There lurks the feeble mouse, the homely hen,
And there the porcupine with all her quills.
Yet much remains - to weave a solemn strain
That lingering sadly - slowly dies away,
Daily departing with departing day
A pea-green gamut on a distant plain
When wily walrusses in congresses meet -
Such such is life -