Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Scroobious Pip

One of Ogden Nash's lesser known collaborations was the completion of "Scroobious Pip", by Edward Lear, the infamous 'nonsense' humorist of Victorian England. Lear's handwritten manuscript for Scroobius was found after he died in 1888. It was published in the U.S. in 1953, with unfinished verses. In 1968, Nash took up the task to complete what has been called one of Lear's most engaging poems. The Pip is a strange, inscrutable creature - part bird, beast, insect, and fish. Nash filled in the missing lines and phrases to complete the tale of why all the animals in the world gathered around the Scroobius Pip.

The main character is also the namesake of a UK based Hip Hop / Jazz / a'cappella artist

The Scroobious Pip

The Scroobious Pip went out one day
When the grass was green, and the sky was grey.
Then all the beasts in the world came round
When the Scroobious Pip sat down on the ground.
The cat and the dog and the kangaroo
The sheep and the cow and the guineapig too--
The wolf he howled, the horse he neighed
The little pig squeaked and the donkey brayed,
And when the lion began to roar
There never was heard such a noise before.
And every beast he stood on the tip
Of his toes to look a the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the Fox - "By far,
You're the wisest beast! You know you are!
Go close to Scroobious Pip and say,
Tell us all about yourself we pray-
For as yet we can't make out in the least
If you're Fish or Insect, or Bird or Beast."
The Scroobious Pip looked vaguelyy round
And sang these words with a rumbling sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The Scroobious Pip from the top of a tree
Saw the distant Jellybolee,-
And all the birds in the world came there,
Flying in crowds all through the air.
The Vulture and Eagle, the cock and the hen
The Ostrich the Turkey the Snipe and the Wren;
The Parrot chattered, the Blackbird sung
And the owl looked wise bu held his tongue,
And when the Peacock began to scream
The hullabaloo was quite extreme.
And every bird he fluttered the tip
Of his wing as he stared at the Scroobious Pip.
At last they said to the owl- "By far,
You're the wisest Bird -- you know you are!
Fly close to the Scroobious Pip and say,
Explain all about yourself we paray-
For as yet we have neither seen nor heard
If you're fish or insect, beast or bird!"
The Scroobious Pip looked gaily round
And sang these words with a chirpy sound-
Chippetty Flip; Flippetty Chip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The Scroobious Pip went into the sea
By the beautiful shore of Jellybolee-
All the fish in the world swam round
With a splashing squashy spluttering sound.
The sprat, the herring, the turbot too
The shark, the sole and the mackerel blue,
The flounder spluttered, the purpoise puffed
And when the whale began to spout
And every fish he shook the tip
Of his tail as he gazed on the Scroobious Pip
At last they said to the whale- "By far
You're the biggest Fish - you know you are!
Swim close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray!-
For to know you yourself is our only wish;
Are you beast or insect, bird or fish?"
The Scroobious Pip looked softly round
And sung these words with a liquid sound-
Pliffity Flip; Pliffety Flip;-
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


The scroobious Pip sat under a tree
By the silent shores of the Jellybolee;
All the insects in all the world
About the Scroobious Pip entwirled.
Beetles and with purple eyes
Gnats and buzztilential flies-
Grasshoppers, butterflies, spiders too,
Wasps and bees and dragon-flies blue,
And when the gnats began to hum
bounced like a dismal drum,
And every insect curled the tip
Of his snout, and looked a the Scroobious Pip.
At last the said to the Ant - "By far
You're the wisest insect, you know you are!
Creep close to the Scroobious Pip and say-
Tell us all about yourself we pray,
For we can't find out, and we can't tell why-
If you're beast or fish or a bird or a fly."
The Scroobious Pip turned quickly round
And sang these words with a whistly sound
Wizzeby wip - wizzeby wip--
My only name is the Scroobious Pip.


Then all the beasts that walk on the ground
Danced in a circle round and round-
And all the birds that fly in the air
Flew round and round in a circle there,
And all the fish in the Jellybolee
Swum in a circle about the sea,
And all the insects that creep or go
Buzzed in a circle to and fro.
And they roared and sang and whistled and cried
Till the noise was heard from side to side-
Chippetty tip! Chippetty tip!
It's only name is the Scroobious Pip.


Kevin Pierce said...


This is fabulous. How did you come to know about it?

John said...

Hi Kevin,
My goal is to find both the Lear unfinished and Nash finished versions and highlight where Nash pinch hit...! Hope all is well with you

Paul H. Tubb said...

This is Excellent...

I knew about this and have been wondering about it...

In 2004, I was in New York, and I decided to see if I could purchase some Ogden Nash... I went to about 8 Bookstores in Manhattan and nowhere had any at all. The Girl in a Barnes & Noble's had never heard of him, I asked if she would search and she entered into her Search Engine 'Augden Nash'. I thought there were very few things as 'New York' As Ogden Nash...

Love the idea behind this, Nash is a huge influence.

John said...

Hey Paul - I agree that NYC is a quintessential Ogden Nash historic place. Perhaps you just happened to encounter the 8 least educated book clerks in Manhattan! Happily, I've heard from many in their twenties who've cited Nash as their favorite poet.

The alternative spelling never occured to me. Kinda funny tho. Google comes up with 7 results for 'Augden Nash'!

Glad you enjoyed Scroobius...

Pip Wilson said...

Cool, mate! I've been trying to find it. And soon I'll read it -- I grew up on Lear.

Anonymous said...

The final verse is Nash

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