Poetry: The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll

I never read veraciously as a child – my literary interaction was generally filtered through my father, who read to me and my sister before bed each night. I probably discovered more about places like Narnia before the idea of England ever crossed my mind.

There is something about Classic literature that sets it apart from the often simplified children’s books of today. They are written without condescension; magical, with the ability to leave a young reader feeling like they are defiantly reading something that was perhaps meant for someone older.

While I favour Alice in Wonderland, it has never been my favourite children’s classic – there are only so many times you can tolerate having ‘Alice in Wonderland!’ squawked at you after every introduction. However, I do have adoration for Lewis Carroll’s writing style. Clearly talented at manipulating the written word, Carroll’s poetry is particularly clever and frightening; making sense with senseless words.

Childhood should be filled with imaginative adventures and fostered before adult cynicism takes hold; Carroll facilitates this rather marvellously.

The Jabberwocky by 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 Jabberwocky, 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 awhile in thought.

And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwocky, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffing 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 thou has 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.

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3 Comments on "Poetry: The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll"

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Kya
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I had heard of the poem, but I had never actually read it. I find it really interesting, thank you for sharing. :)

Manda
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The Jabberwocky is a brilliant poem. I love how nonsensical and clever it is.

Charlie
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I think it’s easy to because used to it over time, but you’re right about the simplification. Maybe to improve literacy we should revert back to those sorts of stories and writing of times gone by. I appreciate the Jabberwocky quite a bit now; the added descriptions by my parents were quite frightening!

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