The poem 'The Duck and the Kangaroo' by Edward Lear is categorised as a nonsense poem. Poems that belong to this particular genre are mostly humorous. But it does not completely pertain to comic relief as it can discuss a serious theme using simple language and coined meaningless words. The entire poem is about an encounter between a duck and a kangaroo. It is written in a simple format as it starts with a conversation between the two. The duck lives in a pond and gets to see a kangaroo. It initiates the conversation and starts by paying compliments to the kangaroo. The duck is mesmerised by the fact that the kangaroo can hop from one place to another. The duck cannot hop, nor can it fly high in the sky. This in-between situation makes the duck wonder what it might be to live as a kangaroo. Since the duck cannot transform itself, it wants to experience the same feel the kangaroo gets as it hops around the world.
The instance is also very similar to situations faced by human beings, where one is not completely satisfied by the position that one holds in life. They tend to look at people with more comforts or talent and wish to live a life similar to them. But rather than being jealous and plotting against them, one can just choose to maintain a cordial relationship with them or ask for help. The duck exclaims 'good gracious' as it is unbelievable for it that an animal can hop both in water and land. It can barely hop on land and praises the kangaroo for hopping on both fields and water. From its perspective, the kangaroo is enjoying life to the fullest. The kangaroo hops as if it would never stop, moving from one place to another.
The duck found his own life to be boring as it was confined to the pond and did not have any chance of exploring beyond it. He calls the pond nasty for this reason and makes a request to the kangaroo. He asks if he could accompany the kangaroo and explore the world in an even better way. The duck longs to move away from the pond and have fun travelling together with the kangaroo. Exploring the world becomes more interesting when one has good company. The kangaroo already has experience of having visited new places and can therefore enlighten the duck. The duck wants to go to the world beyond the routine. It also wonders how nice it would be if it could hop like the kangaroo since it is sceptical if they could get along despite the differences.
The duck is quite fascinated by the lifestyle that the kangaroo leads, as it can jump around and very easily explore new places. When one stays stagnated in a place, it stunts their growth and development. The duck is aware of this fact, yet it does not know a way out. It can hardly move from the pond because of its physical features. It can only trot and flap its wings to a certain level. But the desire to visit places and wander around does not cease to exist. The duck, therefore, makes a request to the kangaroo to give a ride on its back.
Duck flapping its wings
When asking a favour, one has to be polite in order for the request to be considered. Th duck promises that it would cling onto the kangaroo's back and would stay there silent and not disturb it in any way. It also says that it might occasionally quack as it might get excited by the new pursuit. The duck also says that they can go to Dee, and Jelly Bo Lee, which are only imaginary places used to create an effect. It is also made in Australian slang since kangaroos are from Australia. The duck ensures that it wants to hop over the land and sea and visit all the places.
The kangaroo is a very practical thinker and therefore says that it needs time to think and ponder over the request. It has to analyse from all angles based on side effects, drawbacks and advantages etc. In many cultures, a single duck is supposed to bring luck and is a symbol of prosperity. Some believe that a group of seven ducks symbolise wealth and fertility. Although this is an advantage, carrying the duck around can have its own drawbacks. But the kangaroo is very polite and does not wish to offend the duck with mean comments. It is always unpleasant to make comments on someone's weight, insecurities, flaws etc., and the kangaroo makes sure that it asks for permission to make a bold comment. It then goes ahead with the remark that the duck, being in the water all the time, has cold and unpleasant feet. When it rides on the kangaroo's back, the feet stick to the body, and extreme exposure to the wet and chill feet may bring in a lot of diseases such as roomatiz. Rheumatism or Roomatiz is a bone disorder caused especially by cold and wet exposure.
Roomatiz is a bone disease
The duck is not offended by the bold comment made by the kangaroo. Instead, like a very practical bird, it ponders over the issue raised by the kangaroo. When someone levies certain issues, one has to analyse if they can work on it or if the issue is worth addressing. Sometimes certain issues have to be ignored upon. But the kangaroo's concerns are valid as it talks about getting physically affected. Therefore, the duck cares about it and thinks about a solution, sitting on the rocks near the pond. Since it has four feet, it bought four pairs of worsted socks. Worsted socks are just socks made out of a yarn material called worsted yarn, which resembles wool. The socks fit all its feet that looks like a web. It had also got a cloak that would cover the kangaroo's back to protect them from cold. It also says that it would smoke a cigar to provide warmth with the heat that it provides. The duck is ready to go to any extent to explore the world with the kangaroo. It wants the kangaroo to be safe as it has so much love and respect for the kangaroo.
Webbed foot of duck
The kangaroo is happy that the duck cares for it so much and that it is looking forward to travel with it. The kangaroo gets ready to travel in the pale moonlight. But just like the duck cares for the kangaroo, the care is taken from the kangaroo's side as it advices the duck to sit tight and balance well. If the duck falls down, then it would land in trouble. So the kangaroo advice the duck to stay still and balance out the body. It also asks the duck to clutch tightly to the back of its tail so that it does not miss balance when the kangaroo's body jerks as it hops up and down. They travelled like this, making the duck's wish come true. It was so much fun that they travelled not just once but thrice. And the poet says that there were no two better people who were so happy to be in each other's company and travel.
Kangaroo and the duck