Just Because …


Lewis Carroll

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

‘Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!’

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood a while in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One two! One two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

‘And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The most famous nonsense poem in the English language. It is just delicious! I helped my daughter to memorize it for a school recitation when she was nine or ten years old, and I have always loved it. Whether or not Carroll was taking drugs at the time it was written is up for debate. I think not.

According to Wikipedia, this nonsense poem may have been partly inspired by The Lambton Worm, a legend from County Durham in North East England in the UK. The story takes place around the River Wear, and is one of the area’s most famous pieces of folklore. Lewis Carroll was staying in the area when he wrote all but the first stanza. That first stanza was written ten years before publication of Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, in which The Jabberwocky appears.

How does it pertain to recent events? Our upside down and backwards world these days is no less nonsensical.

This entry was posted in Poetry, The Culture, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Just Because …

  1. Menagerie says:

    Mason loves the Jabberwocky. He says it has come to take his castle away. We have been castle building for awhile this afternoon. It’s a nice break from his train obsession.

    I’ve had to show him the picture again three times.

    Liked by 6 people

  2. Sharon says:

    I would imagine one is required to be licensed if one wants a Jabberwocky instead of a dog.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. MaryfromMarin says:

    I memorized this poem a zillion years ago. Can still recite it, and do.

    (I almost got “The Walrus and the Carpenter” down pat, but not quite.)

    Liked by 4 people

  4. nyetneetot says:

    This one and Pogo’s “Oh, pick a peck of peach pits, pockets full of pie, foreign twenty blackboards baked until they cry…..” were the first two poems I ever learned.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. nyetneetot says:

    As an aside, it’s not so much nonsense, as very old, archaic English. If I remember correctly it meant burrowing rodents were basking in the sunshine on a hillside, while the turtles sighed.


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