Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Jabberwocky

We are doing group presentations on poems in one of my English classes, and today a group did theirs on Lewis Carroll's "The Jabberwocky." What a fun and strange poem! I really like it. Give it a read below and then answer the following questions (if you want... I'm not the boss of you):
Was Carroll merely swapping out real English words for his made up/jibberish ones, or do his words carry a new meaning that either exists in their own space or as combinations of words (and thus somewhere in between two words' meanings)?
Using made up "nonsense" words would certainly seem easier in rhyming than "real" words; can a poem filled with nonsense words be considered great when compared to a poem existing solely of real words?
Should I read Carroll's "Alice in Wonderland" or whatever the actual title is?
After the poem, enjoy watching The Muppet Show's rendition of "The Jabberwocky." It is fun.

"The Jobberwocky" - 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 awhile 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, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O 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.


Mrs. Ordinary said...

1. Even when we don't know the meaning, words, tend to have a positive or negative connotation. I believe Carroll sufficiently created meaning within the context of the poem, though it appears as though they will not filter into general vernacular. But you never know. Tolkien created an entire language; JK Rowling has introduced phrases that are used regularly; and goodness knows we Google everything nowadays.

2. There is real art in creating general understanding out of nonsense. Ask Shakespeare.

3. It’s like reading through the stream of consciousness of a 7-year-old. There’s not much visual imagery and the dialogue is abrupt; however, it was a frontrunner for "children’s literature written for adult entertainment" and the origins of many allusions lie in both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. There is also a fair amount of cultural literacy that comes with reading the two books.

Thanks for The Muppets. 2:28 well-spent.

Stefu said...

I definitely recommend reading "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland." That book is where I got the inspiration for my Frown Like a Thunderstorm project. (In fact, that name comes from a phrase in the book). Also, read the sequal-Through the Looking Glass (I think...I haven't read it yet).