Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tuesday Tidbits: Alice Through the Looking Glass

Oh, Lewis Carroll is so funny! I've posted it before, but I'll post it again -- my favorite poem, which I am working on memorizing:
"Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
        Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
        And the mome raths outgrabe."
And it is explained as well. This is the first time I was aware of this -- I guess I never read Through the Looking Glass as a child:

 "That's enough to begin with," Humpty Dumpty interrupted: "there are plenty of hard words there. 'Brillig' means four o'clock in the afternoon--the time when you begin broiling things for dinner."
"That'll do very well," said Alice: "and 'slithy'?"
Well, 'slithy' means lithe and slimy. 'Lithe' is the same as 'active.' You see, it's like a portmanteau--there are two meanings packed up into one word."
"I see it now," Alice remarked thoughtfully: "and what are 'toves'?"
"Well, 'toves' are something like badgers--they're something like lizards--and they're something like corkscrews."
"They must be very curious-looking creatures."
"They are that," said Humpty Dumpty, "also they make their nests under sun-dials--also they live on cheese."

"And what's to 'gyre' and to 'gimble'?"
"To 'gyre' is to go round and round like a gyroscope. To 'gimble' is to make holes like a gimblet."
"And 'the wabe' is the grass-plot around a sun-dial, I suppose?" said Alice, surprised at her own ingenuity.
"Of course it is. It's called 'wabe', you know, because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it--"
"And a long way beyond it on each side," Alice added.
"Exactly so. Well then, 'mimsy' is flimsy 'and miserable' (there's another portmanteau for you). And a 'borogove' is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round--something like a live mop."
"And then 'mome rathes'?" said Alice. "I'm afraid I'm giving you a great deal of trouble."
 "Well, a 'rath' is a sort of green pig: but 'mome' I'm not certain about.  I think it's short for 'from home' --meaning that they'd lost their way, you know."
"And what does 'outgrabe' mean?"
"Well, 'outgribing' is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle: however, you'll hear it done, maybe--down in the wood yonder--and when you've once heard it you'll be quite content. Who's been repeating all that hard stuff to you?"
"I read it in a book," said Alice. "But I had some poetry repeated to me, much easier than that, by--Tweedledee, I think it was."
I mean, what absolute nonsense! But what fun!

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