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The Duck and the Kangaroo Summary in English by Edward Lear

The Duck and the Kangaroo by Edward Lear About the Poet

Edward Lear (1812-1888) was an English artist, illustrator, musician, author and poet. He is best known for his literary nonsense in poetry and prose especially his limericks, a form he popularised. He began his career as an artist at the age of 15. His father, a stockbroker of Danish origins, was sent to debtor’s prison when Lear was only 13. So, he was forced to earn a living. He quickly gained recognition for his work and in 1832, he was hired by the London Zoological Society to execute illustrations of birds. He composed his first book of poems, A Book of Nonsense for the grandchildren of the Derby household. Between 1837 and 1847, he travelled throughout Europe and Asia. His travel journals were published in several volumes as The Illustrated Travels of a Landscape Painter. He wrote many deeply fantastical poems about imaginary creatures such as The Dong with the Luminous Nose. His books of humorous verse also include Nonsense Songs and Laughable Lyrics.

Poet Name
Edward Lear
Born 12 May 1812, Holloway, United Kingdom
Died 29 January 1888, Sanremo, Italy
At Works Masada on the Dead Sea, Campagna di Roma
On view Yale Center for British Art, National Gallery of Art
Period Romanticism
The Duck and the Kangaroo Summary by Edward Lear
The Duck and the Kangaroo Summary by Edward Lear

The Duck and the Kangaroo Introduction to the Chapter

The Duck and the Kangaroo is a famous poem by Edward Lear. In this poem a duck wants to be able to jump around and see the world like a kangaroo. So he asks a kangaroo to take him on its back.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Summary in English

The Duck praises the Kangaroo and the way he hops so gracefully over the fields and water. The Duck feels sorry for himself as his own life is really boring in the nasty pond. The Duck wishes he could hop like the Kangaroo and see the world beyond the pond.

The Duck requests the Kangaroo to give him a ride on his back. He also promises that he would sit quietly on the Kangaroo’s back, not saying anything apart from a ‘Quack’ the whole day long. They would go to the Dee and the Jelly Bo Lee and over the land and sea. The Duck again earnestly entreats the Kangaroo to give him a ride.

The Kangaroo ponders over the Duck’s proposal seriously. He has an objection to his request because the duck’s feet are cold from water and would give the Kangaroo rheumatism if the Duck sat on his back for the ride.

The Duck has a quick solution to the Kangaroo’s problem. He says he is carrying a pair of woollen socks which will keep his feet neat and warm. Also, he is carrying a cloak and he would smoke a cigar daily and enjoy the company of his dear Kangaroo.

The Kangaroo finally agrees to take the Duck on a ride. In the moonlight, the Duck is seen sitting steady on the Kangaroo’s tail. They hop aound the world thrice. There is no one so happy as the Kangaroo and the Duck.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Theme

Though the poem The Duck and the Kangaroo seems to be nonsensical, there is a lesson to be learned. The Duck is disgruntled with his life and sees the Kangaroo’s life as being more exciting and adventurous. He entreats the Kangaroo for a ride. The Kangaroo objects only because the duck is sure to have cold feet. The Duck assures the Kangaroo that he has several pairs of warm socks, a cloak and a cigar which should keep the cold at bay. So, the Duck and the Kangaroo start their tour and go round the world thrice. The Duck and the Kangaroo are very different, but they resolve their differences by cooperating with each other.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Message

The main message of the poem The Duck and the Kangaroo is that you cannot enjoy your life if you are stuck in a boring routine. One should enjoy many adventures and try new things to get over the boredom of a fixed routine. The Duck is bored in his pond because he’s been there all his life. He wanted to go on an adventure “ to the Dee and the Jelly Bo Lee” and he convinced the Kangaroo to take him along. The poem also teaches us that every problem that besets us, has a solution. Just as the Duck thought of a solution for his wet and cold feet that the Kangaroo was guarded about.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Tone

The tone of the poem is conversational as the Duck and the Kangaroo converse. The Duck very politely requests the Kangaroo for a ride on his back as he is bored of his nasty little pond. The Kangaroo, on his part, reflects upon the situation and courteously presents his doubts to the duck. In a very formal tone he asks for the duck’s permission to speak boldly and says that he has an objection to the duck riding his because the latter’s feet are wet and cold and would probably give him rheumatism. In a conciliatory tone, the Duck offers a solution – wearing a cloak, worsted socks and smoking a cigar. There is happiness and excitement in the tone as the two friends go to places they wished to see, and hop around the world thrice.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Setting

The setting of the poem is near a pond where the Duck lives. The pond could be in Australia, as kangaroos are found in Australia.

The Duck and the Kangaroo Literary Devices


Alliteration is the repetition of the initial letter (generally a consonant) or first sound of several words, marking the stressed syllables in a line of poetry.

Example: Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
“Good gracious! how you hop!

Imagery is a poetic device wherein the author uses words or phrases that appeal to any of the senses or any combination of senses to create “mental images” for the reader. Imagery helps the reader to visualize more realistically the author’s writings. Imagery is not limited to only visual sensations, but also refers to igniting kinesthetic, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, thermal and auditory sensations as well.

Example: Said the Duck to the Kangaroo,
“Good gracious! how you hop!
Over the fields and the water too,
As if you never would stop! (visual imagery)
Your feet are unpleasantly wet and cold,
And would probably give me the roo-


Inversion is a term used to refer to the inverting of the normal word order in a sentence or phrase. Writers will use inversion to maintain a particular meter or rhyme scheme in poetry, or to emphasize a specific word in prose.

Examples: (i) “Said the duck to the kangaroo”
ii) “As if you never would stop”.

Rhyme Scheme

Rhyme is a popular literary device in which the repetition of the same or similar sounds occurs in two or more words, e.g., covers and lovers. Rhyme occurs usually at the end of a line in a poem.

Imperfect Rhyme, also known as ‘partial’, ‘near’ or ‘slant rhyme’, occurs when a: poet deliberately changes the spelling or pronunciation of word so that it rhymes with the last word of another line in the stanza. Use of imperfect rhyme is fairly common in folk poetry.

Example: And would probably give me the roo-
Matiz!” said the Kangaroo.

Roo-matiz is slang for rheumatism. The word has ‘roo – matiz’ – this has been split into two parts for the sake of rhyme scheme, to rhyme with ‘Kangaroo’. The second part ‘matiz’ purely talks about the disease ‘rheumatism; and M is put capital because this is even the beginning of a line of a poem which must start with capital letter.

Rhyme scheme refers to the order in which particular words at the end of each line rhyme. The first end sound is represented as the letter “a”, the second is “b”, and so on. If the alternate words rhyme, it is an “a-b-a-b” rhyme scheme, which means “a” is the rhyme for the lines 1 and 3 and “b” is the rhyme affected in the lines 2 and 4.

Example : Said the Duck to the Kangaroo, A
“Good gracious! how you hop! B
Over the fields and the water too, A
As ifyou never would stop! B
My life is a bore in this nasty pond, C
And I long to go out in the world beyond! C
I wish I could hop like you!” D
Said the Duck to the Kangaroo. D
They rhyme scheme of the poem is — ABABCCDD

The Duck and the Kangaroo Summary Questions and Answers

Question 1.
Where did the Duck live and what did he long for?
The Duck lived in a pond which he considered nasty as he was bored of his life there. He wanted to leave that place and see the world beyond.

Question 2.
Where did the Duck want to go? What did he request the Kangaroo to do?
The Duck wanted to see the world away from the pond he lived in. He thought that he would visit the ‘Dee’ and the ‘Jelly Bo Lee’. He requested the Kangaroo to let him ride on his back as he hopped away.

Question 3.
Why did the Duck want to take a ride on the Kangaroo’s back?
The Duck felt bored with his life in the pond. So, he wanted to see the whole world. He wanted to travel to places like Dee and Jelly Bo Lee. But he did not have that capability. So he wanted to take the Kangaroo’s help as he could hop far and wide.

Question 4.
What did the Duck promise the Kangaroo?
The Duck promised the Kangaroo that if he took him for a ride on his back, he would sit quietly the whole day and only say Quack.

Question 5.
How did the Kangaroo respond to the Duck’s request?
The Kangaroo said that he would have to ponder over his request. He first objected to the Duck’s wet and cold feet because he feared they would give him rheumatism. Later, he agreed to his request. In fact, he thought that it might bring him good luck. So he accepted the Duck’s request to give him a ride on his back.

Question 6.
What did the Duck do to overcome the Kangaroo’s objection?
The Duck bought four pairs of worsted socks which fit his web-feet neatly. Moreover he promised to wear a cloak and to smoke a cigar to keep out the cold. He did it to overcome the Kangaroo’s objection to his cold feet.

Question 7.
How did the Duck and the Kangaroo go round the world?
The Duck sat at the end of the Kangaroo’s tail. He sat still and spoke nothing. The Kangaroo hopped and leapt. They went round the world three times. They enjoyed their journey and were very happy.

Question 8.
The Kangaroo does not want to catch ‘rheumatism’. Why it is spelt differently. Why is it in two parts? Why does the second part begin with a capital letter?
The word ‘rheumatism’ is spelled differently and is in two parts so that it can rhyme with ‘kangaroo’ in the following line. As a result of splitting the word into two and changing its spelling, ‘roo’ rhymes with ‘kangaroo’. The second part ‘Matiz’ begins with a capital letter because it is the first word of the line. In a poem, every line begins with a capital letter even if it is in continuation with the previous line. Hence, this has been done in order to enhance the poetic effect of the lines.

Question 9.
What do you learn about the Duck from the poem?
The Duck is adventurous. He is bored in his pond and wants to travel and see far-off places. He is considerate and promises not to disturb the Kangaroo with his chatter, but sit quietly on the Kangaroo’s back. He is resourceful, and when the Kangaroo objects to his wet and cold feet, he buys worsted socks and a cloak to keep warm. The Duck is envious of the Kangaroo’s ability to hop off and see the world.

Question 10.
What do you learn about the Kangaroo from the poem?
The Kangaroo is a true friend. He agreed to take the Duck for a ride on his back, provided he did something about his cold and wet feet. He takes his friend around the world three times.