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Lewis carroll

Lewis Carroll

POEMS
FOLLOWERS
10

‘You are old, father William,’ the young man said,
‘And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?’

‘In my youth,’ father William replied to his son,
‘I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.’

‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back—somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?’

‘In my youth,’ said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
‘I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment– one shilling the box –
Allow me to sell you a couple.’

‘You are old,’ said the youth, ‘and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?’

‘In my youth,’ said his father, ‘I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.’

‘You are old,’ said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?’

‘I have answered three questions, and that is enough,’
Said his father; 'don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!’

‘That is not said right,’ said the Caterpillar.
‘Not quite right, I’m afraid,' said Alice timidly;
‘some of the words have got altered.’
‘It is wrong from beginning to end,’
said the Caterpillar decidedly, and
there was silence for some minutes.

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!

Blow, blow your trumpets till they crack,
Ye little men of little souls!
And bid them huddle at your back -
Gold-sucking leeches, shoals on shoals!

Fill all the air with hungry wails -
“Reward us, ere we think or write!
Without your Gold mere Knowledge fails
To sate the swinish appetite!”

And, where great Plato paced serene,
Or Newton paused with wistful eye,
Rush to the chace with hoofs unclean
And Babel-clamour of the sty

Be yours the pay: be theirs the praise:
We will not rob them of their due,
Nor vex the ghosts of other days
By naming them along with you.

They sought and found undying fame:
They toiled not for reward nor thanks:
Their cheeks are hot with honest shame
For you, the modern mountebanks!

Who preach of Justice - plead with tears
That Love and Mercy should abound -
While marking with complacent ears
The moaning of some tortured hound:

Who prate of Wisdom - nay, forbear,
Lest Wisdom turn on you in wrath,
Trampling, with heel that will not spare,
The vermin that beset her path!

Go, throng each other’s drawing-rooms,
Ye idols of a petty clique:
Strut your brief hour in borrowed plumes,
And make your penny-trumpets squeak.

Deck your dull talk with pilfered shreds
Of learning from a nobler time,
And oil each other’s little heads
With mutual Flattery’s golden slime:

And when the topmost height ye gain,
And stand in Glory’s ether clear,
And grasp the prize of all your pain -
So many hundred pounds a year -

Then let Fame’s banner be unfurled!
Sing Paeans for a victory won!
Ye tapers, that would light the world,
And cast a shadow on the Sun -

Who still shall pour His rays sublime,
One crystal flood, from East to West,
When YE have burned your little time
And feebly flickered into rest!

When midnight mists are creeping,
And all the land is sleeping,
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.
Lo, warriors, saints, and sages,
From out the vanished ages,
With solemn pace and reverend face
Appear and pass away.
The blaze of noonday splendour,
The twilight soft and tender,
May charm the eye: yet they shall die,
Shall die and pass away.
But here, in Dreamland’s centre,
No spoiler’s hand may enter,
These visions fair, this radiance rare,
Shall never pass away.
I see the shadows falling,
The forms of old recalling;
Around me tread the mighty dead,
And slowly pass away.

'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.

With saddest music all day long
She soothed her secret sorrow:
At night she sighed “I fear 'twas wrong
Such cheerful words to borrow.
Dearest, a sweeter, sadder song
I’ll sing to thee to—morrow.”

I thanked her, but I could not say
That I was glad to hear it:
I left the house at break of day,
And did not venture near it
Till time, I hoped, had worn away
Her grief, for nought could cheer it!

My dismal sister! Couldst thou know
The wretched home thou keepest!
Thy brother, drowned in daily woe,
Is thankful when thou sleepest;
For if I laugh, however low,
When thou’rt awake, thou weepest!

I took my sister t’other day
(Excuse the slang expression)
To Sadler’s Wells to see the play
In hopes the new impression
Might in her thoughts, from grave to gay
Effect some slight digression.

I asked three gay young dogs from town
To join us in our folly,
Whose mirth, I thought, might serve to drown
My sister’s melancholy:
The lively Jones, the sportive Brown,
And Robinson the jolly.

The maid announced the meal in tones
That I myself had taught her,
Meant to allay my sister’s moans
Like oil on troubled water:
I rushed to Jones, the lively Jones,
And begged him to escort her.

Vainly he strove, with ready wit,
To joke about the weather —
To ventilate the last 'ON DIT’ –
To quote the price of leather—
She groaned “Here I and Sorrow sit:
Let us lament together!”

I urged “You’re wasting time, you know:
Delay will spoil the venison.”
“My heart is wasted with my woe!
There is no rest —in Venice, on
The Bridge of Sighs!” she quoted low
From Byron and from Tennyson.

I need not tell of soup and fish
In solemn silence swallowed,
The sobs that ushered in each dish,
And its departure followed,
Nor yet my suicidal wish
To BE the cheese I hollowed.

Some desperate attempts were made
To start a conversation;
“Madam,” the sportive Brown essayed,
“Which kind of recreation,
Hunting or fishing, have you made
Your special occupation?”

Her lips curved downwards instantly,
As if of india—rubber.
“Hounds IN FULL CRY I like,” said she:
(Oh how I longed to snub her!)
“Of fish, a whale’s the one for me,
IT IS SO FULL OF BLUBBER!”

The night’s performance was “King John.”
“It’s dull,” she wept, “and so—so!”
Awhile I let her tears flow on,
She said they soothed her woe so!
At length the curtain rose upon
‘Bombastes Furioso.’

In vain we roared; in vain we tried
To rouse her into laughter:
Her pensive glances wandered wide
From orchestra to rafter —
“TIER UPON TIER!” she said, and sighed;
And silence followed after.

As one who strives a hill to climb,
Who never climbed before:
Who finds it, in a little time,
Grow every moment less sublime,
And votes the thing a bore:

Yet, having once begun to try,
Dares not desert his quest,
But, climbing, ever keeps his eye
On one small hut against the sky
Wherein he hopes to rest:

Who climbs till nerve and force are spent,
With many a puff and pant:
Who still, as rises the ascent,
In language grows more violent,
Although in breath more scant:

Who, climbing, gains at length the place
That crowns the upward track.
And, entering with unsteady pace,
Receives a buffet in the face
That lands him on his back:

And feels himself, like one in sleep,
Glide swiftly down again,
A helpless weight, from steep to steep,
Till, with a headlong giddy sweep,
He drops upon the plain —

So I, that had resolved to bring
Conviction to a ghost,
And found it quite a different thing
From any human arguing,
Yet dared not quit my post

But, keeping still the end in view
To which I hoped to come,
I strove to prove the matter true
By putting everything I knew
Into an axiom:

Commencing every single phrase
With 'therefore’ or ‘because,’
I blindly reeled, a hundred ways,
About the syllogistic maze,
Unconscious where I was.

Quoth he “That’s regular clap—trap:
Don’t bluster any more.
Now DO be cool and take a nap!
Such a ridiculous old chap
Was never seen before!

”You’re like a man I used to meet,
Who got one day so furious
In arguing, the simple heat
Scorched both his slippers off his feet!"
I said “THAT’S VERY CURIOUS!”

“Well, it IS curious, I agree,
And sounds perhaps like fibs:
But still it’s true as true can be —
As sure as your name’s Tibbs,” said he.
I said “My name’s NOT Tibbs.”

“NOT Tibbs!” he cried– his tone became
A shade or two less hearty—
“Why, no,” said I. “My proper name
Is Tibbets —” “Tibbets?” “Aye, the same.”
“Why, then YOU’RE NOT THE PARTY!”

With that he struck the board a blow
That shivered half the glasses.
“Why couldn’t you have told me so
Three quarters of an hour ago,
You prince of all the asses?

”To walk four miles through mud and rain,
To spend the night in smoking,
And then to find that it’s in vain —
And I’ve to do it all again —
It’s really TOO provoking!

“Don’t talk!” he cried, as I began
To mutter some excuse.
“Who can have patience with a man
That’s got no more discretion than
An idiotic goose?

”To keep me waiting here, instead
Of telling me at once
That this was not the house!" he said.
“There, that’ll do —be off to bed!
Don’t gape like that, you dunce!”

“It’s very fine to throw the blame
On ME in such a fashion!
Why didn’t you enquire my name
The very minute that you came?”
I answered in a passion.

“Of course it worries you a bit
To come so far on foot —
But how was I to blame for it?”
“Well, well!” said he. “I must admit
That isn’t badly put.

”And certainly you’ve given me
The best of wine and victual —
Excuse my violence," said he,
“But accidents like this, you see,
They put one out a little.

”'Twas MY fault after all, I find —
Shake hands, old Turnip—top!"
The name was hardly to my mind,
But, as no doubt he meant it kind,
I let the matter drop.

“Good—night, old Turnip—top, good—night!
When I am gone, perhaps
They’ll send you some inferior Sprite,
Who’ll keep you in a constant fright
And spoil your soundest naps.

”Tell him you’ll stand no sort of trick;
Then, if he leers and chuckles,
You just be handy with a stick
(Mind that it’s pretty hard and thick)
And rap him on the knuckles!

“Then carelessly remark 'Old coon!
Perhaps you’re not aware
That, if you don’t behave, you’ll soon
Be chuckling to another tune —
And so you’d best take care!'

”That’s the right way to cure a Sprite
Of such like goings—on —
But gracious me! It’s getting light!
Good—night, old Turnip—top, good—night!"
A nod, and he was gone.

A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July —

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear
Pleased a simple tale to hear —

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream —
Lingering in the golden gleam —
Life what is it but a dream?

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 they 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 one’s self 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.

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!

I have a fairy by my side
Which says I must not sleep,
When once in pain I loudly cried
It said “You must not weep”
If, full of mirth, I smile and grin,
It says “You must not laugh”
When once I wished to drink some gin
It said “You must not quaff”.

When once a meal I wished to taste
It said “You must not bite”
When to the wars I went in haste
It said “You must not fight”.

“What may I do?” at length I cried,
Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied,
And said “You must not ask”.

Moral: “You mustn’t.”

PREFACE

If——and the thing is wildly possible——the charge of writing
nonsense were ever brought against the author of this brief but
instructive poem, it would be based, I feel convinced, on the line

``Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes’

In view of this painful possibility, I will not (as I might) appeal
indignantly to my other writings as a proof that I am incapable of
such a deed: I will not (as I might) point to the strong moral
purpose of this poem itself, to the arithmetical principles so
cautiously inculcated in it, or to its noble teachings in Natural
History——I will take the more prosaic course of simply explaining
how it happened.

The Bellman, who was almost morbidly sensitive about appearances,
used to have the bowsprit unshipped once or twice a week to be
revarnished, and it more than once happened, when the time came for
replacing it, that no one on board could remember which end of the
ship it belonged to. They knew it was not of the slightest use to
appeal to the Bellman about it——he would only refer to his Naval
Code, and read out in pathetic tones Admiralty Instructions which
none of them had ever been able to understand——so it generally ended
in its being fastened on, anyhow, across the rudder. The helmsman
used to stand by with tears in his eyes: he knew it was all wrong,
but alas! Rule 42 of the Code, ``No one shall speak to the Man at the
Helm’, had been completed by the Bellman himself with the words
``and the Man at the Helm shall speak to no one’. So remonstrance
was impossible, and no steering could be done till the next
varnishing day. During these bewildering intervals the ship usually
sailed backwards.

This office was usually undertaken by the Boots, who found in it
a refuge from the Baker’s constant complaints about the insufficient
blacking of his three pairs of boots.

As this poem is to some extent connected with the lay of the
Jabberwock, let me take this opportunity of answering a question that
has often been asked me, how to pronounce ``slithy toves’. The
``i’ in ``slithy’ is long, as in ``writhe’; and ``toves’ is
pronounced so as to rhyme with ``groves’. Again, the first ``o’ in
``borogoves’ is pronounced like the ``o’ in ``borrow’. I have
heard people try to give it the sound of the ``o’ in ``worry’.
Such is Human Perversity.

This also seems a fitting occasion to notice the other hard words in
that poem. Humpty—Dumpty’s theory, of two meanings packed into one
word like a portmanteau, seems to me the right explanation for all.

For instance, take the two words ``fuming’ and ``furious’. Make up
your mind that you will say both words, but leave it unsettled which
you will say first. Now open your mouth and speak. If your thoughts
incline ever so little towards ``fuming’, you will say
``fuming—furious’; if they turn, by even a hair’s breadth, towards
``furious’, you will say ``furious—fuming’; but if you have that
rarest of gifts, a perfectly balanced mind, you will say
``frumious’.

Supposing that, when Pistol uttered the well—known words——

``Under which king, Bezonian? Speak or die!'

Justice Shallow had felt certain that it was either William or
Richard, but had not been able to settle which, so that he could not
possibly say either name before the other, can it be doubted that,
rather than die, he would have gasped out ``Rilchiam!'.