… the Jabberwock
From Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, illustration by John Tenniel.
This was a great favourite of mine as a child and I still love the poem, Jabberwocky which begins:
Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch.
I had no idea what the words meant but I loved the sound of them and learned them off by heart. Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice that ‘brillig’ means ‘4 o’clock’, ‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’ and ‘toves’ are something like badgers and lizards and corkscrews, to ‘gyre and gimble’ means to go round and round like a gyroscope and make holes like a gimlet and the ‘wabe’ is a grass-plot around a sundial – as shown in this illustration also by John Tenniel:
An ABC Wednesday post.
11 thoughts on “ABC Wednesday J is for …”
Oh yes, those nineteenth century illustrators really knew how to ratchet it up on the scary stakes, didn’t they.
I loved Jabberwocky as a kid and can still recite (most of) it by heart. There is a wonderful book about Maths, Philosophy, art and Music called Godel, Escher, Bach which happens to put Jabberwocky in English, German and French translations side by side which are rather marvellous … (also in the Annotated Alice by Martin Gardner)
Es brillig war. Die schlichte Toven, wirrten und wimmelten in Waben … it suits German I think.
The illustrations are brilliant. I love the poem both in German and English. I found this video a while ago of Christopher Lee reading it, he’s amazing (and he voiced the Jabberwock in the Tim Burton movie).
Margaret – Jabberwocky is such a classic poem! Thanks for reminding me of it :-). And that illustration is so beautifully and intricately done…
Always loved the word, though I CANNOT quote the story!
ROG, ABC Wednesday team
This is new to me, but very facinating….
What a beautiful take on J!
Come and see the Joys of our Lives, have a lovely day!
Jabberwock – what a brilliant choice!
I don’t think I ever tire or will ever be to old for this treasure!
The last go round of ABC Wednesday, I did the J introduction and I referenced Jabberwocky! One of the few poems I memorized (well part of it anyway!)
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