ABC Wednesday J is for …

… 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 …

  1. 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.


  2. 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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