‘Tis the voice of the lobster

September 21, 2009 § Leave a comment

tisthevoiceofthelobster_02

Alice recites this to the Gryphon and the Mock Turtle:

‘Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
“You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair.”

As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose

Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.

When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,

And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark;

But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,

His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.


I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,

How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon;
While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
And concluded the banquet by — *

[*Alice’s recitation is suddenly interrupted by the Mock Turtle, who finds the poem “the most confusing thing I ever heard”]

Lewis Carroll’s light verses are the best sort of nonsensical fun. I particularly admire his skill in parody and absurd turn of phrase (“You have baked me too brown,  I must sugar my hair.“) You can almost see the vain little lobster twisting and turning in front of his mirror, twirling his feelers into place.. it makes you smile.

The verse above is a take on Isaac Watt’s (1674 – 1748) highly conscientious poem, ” The Sluggard”:

‘Tis the voice of the sluggard; I heard him complain,
“You have waked me too soon, I must slumber again.”
As the door on its hinges, so he on his bed,
Turns his sides and his shoulders and his heavy head.

“A little more sleep, and a little more slumber;”
Thus he wastes half his days, and his hours without number,
And when he gets up, he sits folding his hands,
Or walks about sauntering, or trifling he stands.

I pass’d by his garden, and saw the wild brier,
The thorn and the thistle grow broader and higher;
The clothes that hang on him are turning to rags;
And his money still wastes till he starves or he begs.

I made him a visit, still hoping to find
That he took better care for improving his mind:
He told me his dreams, talked of eating and drinking;
But scarce reads his Bible, and never loves thinking.

Said I then to my heart, “Here’s a lesson for me,”
This man’s but a picture of what I might be:
But thanks to my friends for their care in my breeding,
Who taught me betimes to love working and reading.

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