The Dong with a Luminous Nose

‘The luminous nose is poetry itself, glimmering in the landscape of a sombre life’

Edward Lear’s fantastical poem is a tragic tale of love and loss.The Dong falls in love with a Jumbly Girl from over the sea ‘with her sky-blue hands and her sea-green hair’.
After magical times together, she leaves him.
Forever hopeful, he waits for her by the shore, alone with the lamp he makes of his luminous nose.

‘For ever I’ll seek by lake and shore
Till I find my Jumbly Girl once more!’


Edward Lear may be best known for ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’, and for his limericks, quirky drawings and nonsense verse but his humour masked depression and loneliness.
As Jenny Uglow says in her biography of Lear ‘… the luminous nose is poetry itself, glimmering in the landscape of a sombre life.’
The music by John Hawkins was reviewed by Musical Opinion as ‘heartfelt and constantly inventive’.

Read the complete text of ‘The Dong with a Luminous Nose’

The original instrumentalists from the recording on the CD ‘Simplicius’ (Claudio Records) are now joined by mime/dancer Eline Peres to bring the action to life at Tête à Tête Opera in September 2022. Tickets are available from:




Steve Dummer is both clarinettist and conductor. With the help of an ‘Arts for Everyone’ grant he also founded the Talkestra ensemble whose concerts give informative, educational and entertaining introductions to music from the 18th to the 21st centuries. Steve recorded ’The Dong with a Luminous Nose’ with Aidan Smith for Claudio Records in 2021.
Aidan Smith (baritone) started his career at the GSMD and the RAM then graduated to the National Opera Studio, going on to become Associate Artist for Welsh National Opera. He has performed for all the major opera companies in the UK and many abroad. Aidan has performed for the Royal Opera, Welsh National Opera, Ulster Orchestra and for Opera Brava. Since the pandemic he has also started a singing school in his home town of Cheltenham. Aidan has a passion for contemporary music and has collaborated on modern works with The Opera Group, Opera Holland Park and English Touring Opera as well as recording ‘The Dong with the Luminous Nose’.
Eline Pérès will be the dance and mime for the show. Eline is a graduate of Trinity Laban in contemporary dance and has performed in England and in France.
See her 365 Days Improvisation here
John Hawkins (composer) has been a dental student, a book designer and composer. His one act opera ‘Echoes’ was commissioned as part of Covent Gardens’ ‘Garden Venture’ series. His ‘Sea Symphony’ (a commission which involved a trip to Australia on a container ship with a piano!) was broadcast twice by the BBC. This year commercial recordings are being made of pieces for violin and piano and of more music for solo clarinet.

For more information about Edward Lear see The Edward Lear Society