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Lewis carroll

Lewis Carroll

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
12

Lays of Mystery,
Imagination, and Humor

Number 1

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And each damp thing that creeps and crawls
Went wobble—wobble on the walls.

Faint odours of departed cheese,
Blown on the dank, unwholesome breeze,
Awoke the never ending sneeze.

Strange pictures decked the arras drear,
Strange characters of woe and fear,
The humbugs of the social sphere.

One showed a vain and noisy prig,
That shouted empty words and big
At him that nodded in a wig.

And one, a dotard grim and gray,
Who wasteth childhood’s happy day
In work more profitless than play.

Whose icy breast no pity warms,
Whose little victims sit in swarms,
And slowly sob on lower forms.

And one, a green thyme—honoured Bank,
Where flowers are growing wild and rank,
Like weeds that fringe a poisoned tank.

All birds of evil omen there
Flood with rich Notes the tainted air,
The witless wanderer to snare.

The fatal Notes neglected fall,
No creature heeds the treacherous call,
For all those goodly Strawn Baits Pall.

The wandering phantom broke and fled,
Straightway I saw within my head
A vision of a ghostly bed,

Where lay two worn decrepit men,
The fictions of a lawyer’s pen,
Who never more might breathe again.

The serving—man of Richard Roe
Wept, inarticulate with woe:
She wept, that waiting on John Doe.

“Oh rouse”, I urged, “the waning sense
With tales of tangled evidence,
Of suit, demurrer, and defence.”

“Vain”, she replied, “such mockeries:
For morbid fancies, such as these,
No suits can suit, no plea can please.”

And bending o’er that man of straw,
She cried in grief and sudden awe,
Not inappropriately, “Law!”

The well—remembered voice he knew,
He smiled, he faintly muttered “Sue!”
(Her very name was legal too.)

The night was fled, the dawn was nigh:
A hurricane went raving by,
And swept the Vision from mine eye.

Vanished that dim and ghostly bed,
(The hangings, tape; the tape was red happy
'Tis o’er, and Doe and Roe are dead!

Oh, yet my spirit inly crawls,
What time it shudderingly recalls
That horrid dream of marble halls!

The day was wet, the rain fell souse
Like jars of strawberry jam, [1] a
sound was heard in the old henhouse,
A beating of a hammer.
Of stalwart form, and visage warm,
Two youths were seen within it,
Splitting up an old tree into perches for their poultry
At a hundred strokes [2] a minute.
The work is done, the hen has taken
Possession of her nest and eggs,
Without a thought of eggs and bacon, [3]
(Or I am very much mistaken happy)
She turns over each shell,
To be sure that all’s well,
Looks into the straw
To see there’s no flaw,
Goes once round the house, [4]
Half afraid of a mouse,
Then sinks calmly to rest
On the top of her nest,
First doubling up each of her legs.
Time rolled away, and so did every shell,
“Small by degrees and beautifully less,”
As the large mother with a powerful spell [5]
Forced each in turn its contents to express, [6]
But ah! “imperfect is expression,”
Some poet said, I don’t care who,
If you want to know you must go elsewhere,
One fact I can tell, if you’re willing to hear,
He never attended a Parliament Session,
For I’m certain that if he had ever been there,
Full quickly would he have changed his ideas,
With the hissings, the hootings, the groans and the cheers.
And as to his name it is pretty clear
That it wasn’t me and it wasn’t you!

And so it fell upon a day,
(That is, it never rose again)
A chick was found upon the hay,
Its little life had ebbed away.
No longer frolicsome and gay,
No longer could it run or play.
“And must we, chicken, must we part?”
Its master [7] cried with bursting heart,
And voice of agony and pain.
So one, whose ticket’s marked “Return”, [8]
When to the lonely roadside station
He flies in fear and perturbation,
Thinks of his home—the hissing urn—
Then runs with flying hat and hair,
And, entering, finds to his despair
He’s missed the very last train. [9]

Too long it were to tell of each conjecture
Of chicken suicide, and poultry victim,
The deadly frown, the stern and dreary lecture,
The timid guess, “perhaps some needle pricked him!”
The din of voice, the words both loud and many,
The sob, the tear, the sigh that none could smother,
Till all agreed “a shilling to a penny
It killed itself, and we acquit the mother!”
Scarce was the verdict spoken,
When that still calm was broken,
A childish form hath burst into the throng;
With tears and looks of sadness,
That bring no news of gladness,
But tell too surely something hath gone wrong!
"The sight I have come upon
The stoutest heart [10] would sicken,
That nasty hen has been and gone
And killed another chicken!"

The Baker’s Tale

They roused him with muffins—they roused him with ice—
They roused him with mustard and cress—
They roused him with jam and judicious advice—
They set him conundrums to guess.
When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried “Silence! Not even a shriek!”
And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called “Ho!” told his story of woe
In an antediluvian tone.

“My father and mother were honest, though poor—”
“Skip all that!” cried the Bellman in haste.
“If it once becomes dark, there’s no chance of a Snark—
We have hardly a minute to waste!”

“I skip forty years,” said the Baker in tears,
“And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
To help you in hunting the Snark.

”A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
Remarked, when I bade him farewell—”
“Oh, skip your dear uncle!” the Bellman exclaimed,
As he angrily tingled his bell.

“He remarked to me then,” said that mildest of men,
“'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens
And it’s handy for striking a light.

”'You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care—
You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway-share;
You may charm it with smiles and soap—'”

("That’s exactly the method," the Bellman bold
In a hasty parenthesis cried,
“That’s exactly the way I have always been told
That the capture of Snarks should be tried!”)

“'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
And never be met with again!”

“It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
When I think of my uncle’s last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
Brimming over with quivering curds!

”It is this, it is this—" “We have had that before!”
The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied “Let me say it once more.
It is this, it is this that I dread!

”I engage with the Snark—every night after dark—
In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
And I use it for striking a light:

“But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away—
And the notion I cannot endure!”

AY, 'twas here, on this spot,
In that summer of yore,
Atalanta did not
Vote my presence a bore,
Nor reply to my tenderest talk “She had
heard all that nonsense before.”

She’d the brooch I had bought
And the necklace and sash on,
And her heart, as I thought,
Was alive to my passion;
And she’d done up her hair in the style that
the Empress had brought into fashion.

I had been to the play
With my pearl of a Peri —
But, for all I could say,
She declared she was weary,
That “the place was so crowded and hot, and
she couldn’t abide that Dundreary.”

Then I thought “Lucky boy!
'Tis for YOU that she whimpers!”
And I noted with joy
Those sensational simpers:
And I said “This is scrumptious!” —a
phrase I had learned from the Devonshire shrimpers.

And I vowed “'Twill be said
I’m a fortunate fellow,
When the breakfast is spread,
When the topers are mellow,
When the foam of the bride—cake is white,
and the fierce orange—blossoms are yellow!”

O that languishing yawn!
O those eloquent eyes!
I was drunk with the dawn
Of a splendid surmise —
I was stung by a look, I was slain by a tear,
by a tempest of sighs.

Then I whispered “I see
The sweet secret thou keepest.
And the yearning for ME
That thou wistfully weepest!
And the question is ‘License or Banns?’,
though undoubtedly Banns are the cheapest.”

“Be my Hero,” said I,
“And let ME be Leander!”
But I lost her reply —
Something ending with “gander” —
For the omnibus rattled so loud that no
mortal could quite understand her.

A loaf of bread, the Walrus said,
Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed–
Now if you’re ready, Oysters, dear,
We can begin to feed!

‘Fury said to
a mouse, That
he met
in the
house,
’Let us
both go
to law:
I will
prosecute
you.—
Come, I’ll
take no
denial;
We must
have a
trial:
For
really
this
morningI’ve
nothing
to do.’
Said the
mouse to
the cur,
‘Such a
trial,
dear sir,
With no
jury or
judge,
would be
wasting
our breath.’
‘I’ll be
judge,
I’ll be
jury,’
Said
cunning
old Fury;
‘I’ll try
the whole
cause,
and
condemn
you
to
death.' ’
                      

A Mother’s breast:
Safe refuge from her childish fears,
From childish troubles, childish tears,
Mists that enshroud her dawning years!
see how in sleep she seems to sing
A voiceless psalm—an offering
Raised, to the glory of her King
In Love: for Love is Rest.

A Darling’s kiss:
Dearest of all the signs that fleet
From lips that lovingly repeat
Again, again, the message sweet!
Full to the brim with girlish glee,
A child, a very child is she,
Whose dream of heaven is still to be
At Home: for Home is Bliss.

Five little girls, of Five, Four, Three, Two, One:
Rolling on the hearthrug, full of tricks and fun.

Five rosy girls, in years from Ten to Six:
Sitting down to lessons —no more time for tricks.

Five growing girls, from Fifteen to Eleven:
Music, Drawing, Languages, and food enough for seven!

Five winsome girls, from Twenty to Sixteen:
Each young man that calls, I say “Now tell me which you MEAN!”

Five dashing girls, the youngest Twenty—one:
But, if nobody proposes, what is there to be done?

Five showy girls —but Thirty is an age
When girls may be ENGAGING, but they somehow don’t ENGAGE.

Five dressy girls, of Thirty—one or more:
So gracious to the shy young men they snubbed so much before!

Five PASSE girls —Their age? Well, never mind!
We jog along together, like the rest of human kind:
But the quondam “careless bachelor” begins to think he knows
The answer to that ancient problem “how the money goes”!

1

Fit the First
            The Landing

“Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
   As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
   By a finger entwined in his hair.

“Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
   That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
   What I tell you three times is true.”

The crew was complete: it included a Boots—
   A maker of Bonnets and Hoods—
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes—
   And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard—marker, whose skill was immense,
   Might perhaps have won more than his share—
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
   Had the whole of their cash in his care.

There was also a Beaver, that paced on the deck,
   Or would sit making lace in the bow:
And had often (the Bellman said) saved them from wreck,
   Though none of the sailors knew how.

There was one who was famed for the number of things
   He forgot when he entered the ship:
His umbrella, his watch, all his jewels and rings,
   And the clothes he had bought for the trip.

He had forty—two boxes, all carefully packed,
   With his name painted clearly on each:
But, since he omitted to mention the fact,
   They were all left behind on the beach.

The loss of his clothes hardly mattered, because
   He had seven coats on when he came,
With three pair of boots—but the worst of it was,
   He had wholly forgotten his name.

He would answer to “Hi!” or to any loud cry,
   Such as “Fry me!” or “Fritter my wig!”
To “What—you—may—call—um!” or “What—was—his—name!”
   But especially “Thing—um—a—jig!”

While, for those who preferred a more forcible word,
   He had different names from these:
His intimate friends called him “Candle—ends,”
   And his enemies “Toasted—cheese.”

“His form in ungainly—his intellect small—”
   (So the Bellman would often remark)
“But his courage is perfect! And that, after all,
   Is the thing that one needs with a Snark.”

He would joke with hænas, returning their stare
   With an impudent wag of the head:
And he once went a walk, paw—in—paw, with a bear,
   “Just to keep up its spirits,” he said.

He came as a Baker: but owned, when too late—
   And it drove the poor Bellman half—mad—
He could only bake Bride—cake—for which, I may state,
   No materials were to be had.

The last of the crew needs especial remark,
   Though he looked an incredible dunce:
He had just one idea—but, that one being “Snark,”
   The good Bellman engaged him at once.

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
   When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
   And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
   There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
   Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
   Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
   Could atone for that dismal surprise!

It strongly advised that the Butcher should be
   Conveyed in a separate ship:
But the Bellman declared that would never agree
   With the plans he had made for the trip:

Navigation was always a difficult art,
   Though with only one ship and one bell:
And he feared he must really decline, for his part,
   Undertaking another as well.

The Beaver’s best course was, no doubt, to procure
   A second—hand dagger—proof coat—
So the Baker advised it—and next, to insure
   Its life in some Office of note:

This the Banker suggested, and offered for hire
   (On moderate terms), or for sale,
Two excellent Policies, one Against Fire,
   And one Against Damage From Hail.

Yet still, ever after that sorrowful day,
   Whenever the Butcher was by,
The Beaver kept looking the opposite way,
   And appeared unaccountably shy.

                  Fit the Second
                      The Bellman’s Speech

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies—
   Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
   The moment one looked in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
   Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
   A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
   Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
   “They are merely conventional signs!

”Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
   But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best—
   A perfect and absolute blank!”

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
   That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
   And that was to tingle his bell.

He was thoughtful and grave—but the orders he gave
   Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried “Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!”
   What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
   A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
   When a vessel is, so to speak, “snarked.”

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
   And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
   That the ship would not travel due West!

But the danger was past—they had landed at last,
   With their boxes, portmanteaus, and bags:
Yet at first sight the crew were not pleased with the view,
   Which consisted to chasms and crags.

The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
   And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe—
   But the crew would do nothing but groan.

He served out some grog with a liberal hand,
   And bade them sit down on the beach:
And they could not but own that their Captain looked grand,
   As he stood and delivered his speech.

“Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!”
   (They were all of them fond of quotations:
So they drank to his health, and they gave him three cheers,
   While he served out additional rations).

“We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
   (Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
   Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

”We have sailed many weeks, we have sailed many days,
   (Seven days to the week I allow),
But a Snark, on the which we might lovingly gaze,
   We have never beheld till now!

“Come, listen, my men, while I tell you again
   The five unmistakable marks
By which you may know, wheresoever you go,
   The warranted genuine Snarks.

”Let us take them in order. The first is the taste,
   Which is meagre and hollow, but crisp:
Like a coat that is rather too tight in the waist,
   With a flavour of Will—o’—the—wisp.

“Its habit of getting up late you’ll agree
   That it carries too far, when I say
That it frequently breakfasts at five—o’clock tea,
   And dines on the following day.

”The third is its slowness in taking a jest.
   Should you happen to venture on one,
It will sigh like a thing that is deeply distressed:
   And it always looks grave at a pun.

“The fourth is its fondness for bathing—machines,
   Which it constantly carries about,
And believes that they add to the beauty of scenes—
   A sentiment open to doubt.

”The fifth is ambition. It next will be right
   To describe each particular batch:
Distinguishing those that have feathers, and bite,
   From those that have whiskers, and scratch.

“For, although common Snarks do no manner of harm,
   Yet, I feel it my duty to say,
Some are Boojums—” The Bellman broke off in alarm,
   For the Baker had fainted away.

           Fit the Third
               The Baker’s Tale

They roused him with muffins—they roused him with ice—
   They roused him with mustard and cress—
They roused him with jam and judicious advice—
   They set him conundrums to guess.

When at length he sat up and was able to speak,
   His sad story he offered to tell;
And the Bellman cried “Silence! Not even a shriek!”
   And excitedly tingled his bell.

There was silence supreme! Not a shriek, not a scream,
   Scarcely even a howl or a groan,
As the man they called “Ho!” told his story of woe
   In an antediluvian tone.

“My father and mother were honest, though poor—”
   “Skip all that!” cried the Bellman in haste.
“If it once becomes dark, there’s no chance of a Snark—
   We have hardly a minute to waste!”

“I skip forty years,” said the Baker, in tears,
   “And proceed without further remark
To the day when you took me aboard of your ship
   To help you in hunting the Snark.

”A dear uncle of mine (after whom I was named)
   Remarked, when I bade him farewell—"
“Oh, skip your dear uncle!” the Bellman exclaimed,
   As he angrily tingled his bell.

“He remarked to me then,” said that mildest of men,
   “'If your Snark be a Snark, that is right:
Fetch it home by all means—you may serve it with greens,
   And it’s handy for striking a light.

”'You may seek it with thimbles—and seek it with care;
   You may hunt it with forks and hope;
You may threaten its life with a railway—share;
   You may charm it with smiles and soap—'"

("That’s exactly the method," the Bellman bold
   In a hasty parenthesis cried,
“That’s exactly the way I have always been told
   That the capture of Snarks should be tried!”)

“'But oh, beamish nephew, beware of the day,
   If your Snark be a Boojum! For then
You will softly and suddenly vanish away,
   And never be met with again!'

”It is this, it is this that oppresses my soul,
   When I think of my uncle’s last words:
And my heart is like nothing so much as a bowl
   Brimming over with quivering curds!

“It is this, it is this—” “We have had that before!”
   The Bellman indignantly said.
And the Baker replied “Let me say it once more.
   It is this, it is this that I dread!

”I engage with the Snark—every night after dark—
   In a dreamy delirious fight:
I serve it with greens in those shadowy scenes,
   And I use it for striking a light:

“But if ever I meet with a Boojum, that day,
   In a moment (of this I am sure),
I shall softly and suddenly vanish away—
   And the notion I cannot endure!”

           Fit the Fourth
               The Hunting

The Bellman looked uffish, and wrinkled his brow.
   “If only you’d spoken before!
It’s excessively awkward to mention it now,
   With the Snark, so to speak, at the door!

”We should all of us grieve, as you well may believe,
   If you never were met with again—
But surely, my man, when the voyage began,
   You might have suggested it then?

“It’s excessively awkward to mention it now—
   As I think I’ve already remarked.”
And the man they called “Hi!” replied, with a sigh,
   “I informed you the day we embarked.

”You may charge me with murder—or want of sense—
   (We are all of us weak at times):
But the slightest approach to a false pretence
   Was never among my crimes!

“I said it in Hebrew—I said it in Dutch—
   I said it in German and Greek:
But I wholly forgot (and it vexes me much)
   That English is what you speak!”

“'Tis a pitiful tale,” said the Bellman, whose face
   Had grown longer at every word:
“But, now that you’ve stated the whole of your case,
   More debate would be simply absurd.

”The rest of my speech" (he explained to his men)
   “You shall hear when I’ve leisure to speak it.
But the Snark is at hand, let me tell you again!
   'Tis your glorious duty to seek it!

”To seek it with thimbles, to seek it with care;
   To pursue it with forks and hope;
To threaten its life with a railway—share;
   To charm it with smiles and soap!

“For the Snark’s a peculiar creature, that won’t
   Be caught in a commonplace way.
Do all that you know, and try all that you don’t:
   Not a chance must be wasted to—day!

”For England expects—I forbear to proceed:
   'Tis a maxim tremendous, but trite:
And you’d best be unpacking the things that you need
   To rig yourselves out for the fight."

Then the Banker endorsed a blank check (which he crossed),
   And changed his loose silver for notes.
The Baker with care combed his whiskers and hair,
   And shook the dust out of his coats.

The Boots and the Broker were sharpening a spade—
   Each working the grindstone in turn:
But the Beaver went on making lace, and displayed
   No interest in the concern:

Though the Barrister tried to appeal to its pride,
   And vainly proceeded to cite
A number of cases, in which making laces
   Had been proved an infringement of right.

The maker of Bonnets ferociously planned
   A novel arrangement of bows:
While the Billiard—marker with quivering hand
   Was chalking the tip of his nose.

But the Butcher turned nervous, and dressed himself fine,
   With yellow kid gloves and a ruff—
Said he felt it exactly like going to dine,
   Which the Bellman declared was all “stuff.”

“Introduce me, now there’s a good fellow,” he said,
   “If we happen to meet it together!”
And the Bellman, sagaciously nodding his head,
   Said “That must depend on the weather.”

The Beaver went simply galumphing about,
   At seeing the Butcher so shy:
And even the Baker, though stupid and stout,
   Made an effort to wink with one eye.

“Be a man!” said the Bellman in wrath, as he heard
   The Butcher beginning to sob.
“Should we meet with a Jubjub, that desperate bird,
   We shall need all our strength for the job!”

             Fit the Fifth
               The Beaver’s Lesson

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
   They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway—share;
   They charmed it with smiles and soap.

Then the Butcher contrived an ingenious plan
   For making a separate sally;
And had fixed on a spot unfrequented by man,
   A dismal and desolate valley.

But the very same plan to the Beaver occurred:
   It had chosen the very same place:
Yet neither betrayed, by a sign or a word,
   The disgust that appeared in his face.

Each thought he was thinking of nothing but “Snark”
   And the glorious work of the day;
And each tried to pretend that he did not remark
   That the other was going that way.

But the valley grew narrow and narrower still,
   And the evening got darker and colder,
Till (merely from nervousness, not from good will)
   They marched along shoulder to shoulder.

Then a scream, shrill and high, rent the shuddering sky,
   And they knew that some danger was near:
The Beaver turned pale to the tip of its tail,
   And even the Butcher felt queer.

He thought of his childhood, left far far behind—
   That blissful and innocent state—
The sound so exactly recalled to his mind
   A pencil that squeaks on a slate!

“'Tis the voice of the Jubjub!” he suddenly cried.
   (This man, that they used to call “Dunce.”)
“As the Bellman would tell you,” he added with pride,
   “I have uttered that sentiment once.

”'Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
   You will find I have told it you twice.
Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
   If only I’ve stated it thrice."

The Beaver had counted with scrupulous care,
   Attending to every word:
But it fairly lost heart, and outgrabe in despair,
   When the third repetition occurred.

It felt that, in spite of all possible pains,
   It had somehow contrived to lose count,
And the only thing now was to rack its poor brains
   By reckoning up the amount.

“Two added to one—if that could but be done,”
   It said, “with one’s fingers and thumbs!”
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
   It had taken no pains with its sums.

“The thing can be done,” said the Butcher, “I think.
   The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
   The best there is time to procure.”

The Beaver brought paper, portfolio, pens,
   And ink in unfailing supplies:
While strange creepy creatures came out of their dens,
   And watched them with wondering eyes.

So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
   As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
And explained all the while in a popular style
   Which the Beaver could well understand.

“Taking Three as the subject to reason about—
   A convenient number to state—
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
   By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

”The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
   By Nine Hundred and Ninety and Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
   Exactly and perfectly true.

“The method employed I would gladly explain,
   While I have it so clear in my head,
If I had but the time and you had but the brain—
   But much yet remains to be said.

”In one moment I’ve seen what has hitherto been
   Enveloped in absolute mystery,
And without extra charge I will give you at large
   A Lesson in Natural History."

In his genial way he proceeded to say
   (Forgetting all laws of propriety,
And that giving instruction, without introduction,
   Would have caused quite a thrill in Society),

“As to temper the Jubjub’s a desperate bird,
   Since it lives in perpetual passion:
Its taste in costume is entirely absurd—
   It is ages ahead of the fashion:

”But it knows any friend it has met once before:
   It never will look at a bride:
And in charity—meetings it stands at the door,
   And collects—though it does not subscribe.

"Its flavour when cooked is more exquisite far
   Than mutton, or oysters, or eggs:
(Some think it keeps best in an ivory jar,
   And some, in mahogany kegs:)

“You boil it in sawdust: you salt it in glue:
   You condense it with locusts and tape:
Still keeping one principal object in view—
   To preserve its symmetrical shape.”

The Butcher would gladly have talked till next day,
   But he felt that the Lesson must end,
And he wept with delight in attempting to say
   He considered the Beaver his friend.

While the Beaver confessed, with affectionate looks
   More eloquent even than tears,
It had learned in ten minutes far more than all books
   Would have taught it in seventy years.

They returned hand—in—hand, and the Bellman, unmanned
   (For a moment) with noble emotion,
Said “This amply repays all the wearisome days
   We have spent on the billowy ocean!”

Such friends, as the Beaver and Butcher became,
   Have seldom if ever been known;
In winter or summer, 'twas always the same—
   You could never meet either alone.

And when quarrels arose—as one frequently finds
   Quarrels will, spite of every endeavour—
The song of the Jubjub recurred to their minds,
   And cemented their friendship for ever!

           Fit the Sixth
               The Barrister’s Dream

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
   They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway—share;
   They charmed it with smiles and soap.

But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
   That the Beaver’s lace—making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
   That his fancy had dwelt on so long.

He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
   Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
   On the charge of deserting its sty.

The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
   That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
   In a soft under—current of sound.

The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
   And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
   What the pig was supposed to have done.

The Jury had each formed a different view
   (Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
   One word that the others had said.

“You must know—” said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed “Fudge!”
   That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
   On an ancient manorial right.

“In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
   To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
   If you grant the plea ‘never indebted.’

”The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;
   But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
   By the Alibi which has been proved.

“My poor client’s fate now depends on your votes.”
   Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
   And briefly to sum up the case.

But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
   So the Snark undertook it instead,
And summed it so well that it came to far more
   Than the Witnesses ever had said!

When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
   As the word was so puzzling to spell;
But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn’t mind
   Undertaking that duty as well.

So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
   It was spent with the toils of the day:
When it said the word “GUILTY!” the Jury all groaned,
   And some of them fainted away.

Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
   Too nervous to utter a word:
When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
   And the fall of a pin might be heard.

“Transportation for life” was the sentence it gave,
   “And then to be fined forty pound.”
The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
   That the phrase was not legally sound.

But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
   When the jailer informed them, with tears,
Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
   As the pig had been dead for some years.

The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
   But the Snark, though a little aghast,
As the lawyer to whom the defence was intrusted,
   Went bellowing on to the last.

Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
   To grow every moment more clear:
Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
   Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.

           Fit the Seventh
               The Banker’s Fate

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
   They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway—share;
   They charmed it with smiles and soap.

And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new
   It was matter for general remark,
Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view
   In his zeal to discover the Snark

But while he was seeking with thimbles and care,
   A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh
And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair,
   For he knew it was useless to fly.

He offered large discount—he offered a cheque
   (Drawn “to bearer”) for seven—pounds—ten:
But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck
   And grabbed at the Banker again.

Without rest or pause—while those frumious jaws
   Went savagely snapping around—
He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped,
   Till fainting he fell to the ground.

The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared
   Led on by that fear—stricken yell:
And the Bellman remarked “It is just as I feared!”
   And solemnly tolled on his bell.

He was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace
   The least likeness to what he had been:
While so great was his fright that his waistcoat turned white—
   A wonderful thing to be seen!

To the horror of all who were present that day,
   He uprose in full evening dress,
And with senseless grimaces endeavoured to say
   What his tongue could no longer express.

Down he sank in a chair—ran his hands through his hair—
   And chanted in mimsiest tones
Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity,
   While he rattled a couple of bones.

“Leave him here to his fate—it is getting so late!”
   The Bellman exclaimed in a fright.
“We have lost half the day. Any further delay,
   And we sha’n’t catch a Snark before night!”

           Fit the Eighth
               The Vanishing

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
   They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway—share;
   They charmed it with smiles and soap.

They shuddered to think that the chase might fail,
   And the Beaver, excited at last,
Went bounding along on the tip of its tail,
   For the daylight was nearly past.

“There is Thingumbob shouting!” the Bellman said,
   “He is shouting like mad, only hark!
He is waving his hands, he is wagging his head,
   He has certainly found a Snark!”

They gazed in delight, while the Butcher exclaimed
   “He was always a desperate wag!”
They beheld him—their Baker—their hero unnamed—
   On the top of a neighbouring crag,

Erect and sublime, for one moment of time,
   In the next, that wild figure they saw
(As if stung by a spasm) plunge into a chasm,
   While they waited and listened in awe.

“It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
   And seemed almost too good to be true.
Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
   Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo—”

Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
   A weary and wandering sigh
That sounded like “—jum!” but the others declare
   It was only a breeze that went by.

They hunted till darkness came on, but they found
   Not a button, or feather, or mark,
By which they could tell that they stood on the ground
   Where the Baker had met with the Snark.

In the midst of the word he was trying to say,
   In the midst of his laughter and glee,
He had softly and suddenly vanished away—
   For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

'Haddock’s Eyes’ or 'The Aged Aged Man’ or
'Ways and Means’ or 'A—Sitting On A Gate’

I’ll tell thee everything I can;
There’s little to relate.
I saw an aged, aged man,
A—sitting on a gate.
‘Who are you, aged man?’ I said.
‘And how is it you live?’
And his answer trickled through my head
Like water through a sieve.

He said ‘I look for butterflies
That sleep among the wheat;
I make them into mutton—pies,
And sell them in the street.
I sell them unto men,’ he said,
'Who sail on stormy seas;
And that’s the way I get my bread—
A trifle, if you please.'

But I was thinking of a plan
To dye one’s whiskers green,
And always use so large a fan
That it could not be seen.
So, having no reply to give
To what the old man said,
I cried, ‘Come, tell me how you live!’
And thumped him on the head.

His accents mild took up the tale;
He said, 'I go my ways,
And when I find a mountain—rill,
I set it in a blaze.
And thence they make a stuff they call
Rowland’s Macassar Oil—
Yet twopence—halfpenny is all
They give me for my toil.'

But I was thinking of a way
To feed oneself on batter,
And so go on from day to day
Getting a little fatter.
I shook him well from side to side,
Until his face was blue;
‘Come, tell me how you live,’ I cried
‘And what it is you do!’

He said, 'I hunt for haddocks’ eyes
Among the heather bright,
And work them into waistcoat—buttons
In the silent night.
And these I do not sell for gold
Or coin of silvery shine,
But for a copper halfpenny,
And that will purchase nine.

'I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
Or set limed twigs for crabs;
I sometimes search the grassy knolls
For wheels of hansom—cabs.
And that’s the way’ (he gave a wink)
'By which I get my wealth—
And very gladly will I drink
Your Honor’s noble health.'

I heard him then, for I had just
Completed my design
To keep the Menai bridge from rust
By boiling it in wine.
I thanked him much for telling me
The way he got his wealth,
But chiefly for his wish that he
Might drink my noble health.

And now, if e’er by chance I put
My fingers into glue,
Or madly squeeze a right—hand foot
Into a left—hand shoe,
Or if I drop upon my toe
A very heavy weight,
I weep, for it reminds me so
Of that old man I used to know—
Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
Whose face was very like a crow
With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
Who seemed distracted with his woe,
Who rocked his body to and fro,
And muttered mumblingly and low,
As if his mouth were full of dough,
Who snorted like a buffalo—
That summer evening long ago
A—sitting on a gate.

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur

“How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once ‘the very wish
Partook of the sublime.’
The tell me how! Don’t put me off
With your 'another time’!”

The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
Enthusiastically;
And thought “There’s no hum—drum in him,
Nor any shilly—shally.”

“And would you be a poet
Before you’ve been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic —
A very simple rule.

”For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.

'Then, if you’d be impressive,
Remember what I say,
That abstract qualities begin
With capitals alway:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful —
Those are the things that pay!

“Next, when we are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don’t state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint.”

“For instance, if I wished, Sir,
Of mutton—pies to tell,
Should I say 'dreams of fleecy flocks
Pent in a wheaten cell’?”
“Why, yes,” the old man said: “that phrase
Would answer very well.

”Then fourthly, there are epithets
That suit with any word —
As well as Harvey’s Reading Sauce
With fish, or flesh, or bird —
Of these, ‘wild,’ ‘lonely,’ ‘weary,’ ‘strange,’
Are much to be preferred."

“And will it do, O will it do
To take them in a lump —
As 'the wild man went his weary way
To a strange and lonely pump’?”
“Nay, nay! You must not hastily
To such conclusions jump.

”Such epithets, like pepper,
Give zest to what you write;
And, if you strew them sparely,
They whet the appetite:
But if you lay them on too thick,
You spoil the matter quite!

“Last, as to the arrangement:
Your reader, you should show him,
Must take what information he
Can get, and look for no im
mature disclosure of the drift
And purpose of your poem.

”Therefore to test his patience —
How much he can endure —
Mention no places, names, or dates,
And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
Consistently obscure.

“First fix upon the limit
To which it shall extend:
Then fill it up with 'Padding’
(Beg some of any friend)
Your great SENSATION—STANZA
You place towards the end.”

"And what is a Sensation,
Grandfather, tell me, pray?
I think I never heard the word
So used before to—day:
Be kind enough to mention one
'Exempli gratiâ'"

And the old man, looking sadly
Across the garden—lawn,
Where here and there a dew—drop
Yet glittered in the dawn,
Said “Go to the Adelphi,
And see the ‘Colleen Bawn.’

”The word is due to Boucicault —
The theory is his,
Where Life becomes a Spasm,
And History a Whiz:
If that is not Sensation,
I don’t know what it is,

“Now try your hand, ere Fancy
Have lost its present glow —”
“And then,” his grandson added,
“We’ll publish it, you know:
Green cloth —gold—lettered at the back —
In duodecimo!”

Then proudly smiled that old man
To see the eager lad
Rush madly for his pen and ink
And for his blotting—pad —
But, when he thought of publishing,
His face grew stern and sad.

Matilda Jane, you never look
At any toy or picture-book.
I show you pretty things in vain
You must be blind, Matilda Jane!

I ask you riddles, tell you tales,
But all our conversation fails.
You never answer me again
I fear you’re dumb, Matilda Jane!

Matilda darling, when I call,
You never seem to hear at all.
I shout with all my might and main
But you’re so deaf, Matilda Jane!

Matilda Jane, you needn’t mind,
For, though you’re deaf and dumb and blind,
There’s some one loves you, it is plain
And that is me, Matilda Jane!