When reading Lewis Carroll Poems, you go back to your childhood days when you listen to familiar music or a book you read when you were all giggles and cuddles. Alice in Wonderland and its sequel, which takesyou back to your little self, has a place in everyone’s heart.
Apart from the claim that Lewis Carroll was a pedophile, he will forever be remembered for this all-time favorite of his. But is that all he is famous for? If you think yes, then you are missing out on Lewis Carroll poems known for their humor and silliness.
Lewis Carroll is really Charles Lutwidge Dodgson who signed his works with this name. He was a math teacher at christ church but English fascinated him more. He is one of the best writers of nonsense verse alongside Edward Lear, to improve children’s limited imagination. If you loved Alice book, you must dive deep into his amazing poems!
7 Fun Lewis Carroll Poems to Explore!
A) Lewis Carroll Poems: Preface to Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
1. All In The Golden Afternoon:
Let’s begin from the very beginning- the creation of Alice in Wonderland wherein lies most of his nonsense poems. It’s a dedication to the Liddell sisters for whom he wrote this evergreen novel. He used this poem as the novel’s preface to lighten your mood and reveal the context of this work.
He speaks of how he went for a boat trip with the three Liddells among whom Alice was his favorite. The main character is apparently named after her. They demanded him to tell them a whimsical story.
The story he narrates forms Alice in Wonderland. We could travel to the wonderland because of Alice Liddell, who insisted that he write the whole thing down. The poem ends with the ending of his narration of the story as the sun sets.
The tone is that of happiness and contentment. It uses romantic features like a pretty landscape, boat ride and elements of nature as in the lines ‘golden afternoon’, ‘dreamy weather’, and ‘wreath of flowers’.
This poem gives you an insight into the relationship between Carroll and the Liddells, the significant role played by the Liddells in the creation of this wonderful novel and Carroll’s excellent understanding of children.
Related: Check out more on the Liddell sisters and Carroll here
B) Lewis Carroll Poems: Alice in Wonderland
2.. Twinkle Twinkle Little Bat
Isn’t that twinkle twinkle little star? No, our poem here is the one written by Lewis Carroll as a parody of the popular rhyme. This is one of his smallest poems which appears in Alice in Wonderland. Mad hatter recites it to Alice adding to the madness in the poem.
Just as the kid wonders what a star really is in “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”, Hatter ponders over a bat and its mysterious activities in this poem. The bat is compared to a tray and is said to twinkle. Now you see why it is a nonsense poem.
However, it is seen as a satire of the strict form and linguistic rules followed by the Victorians. He puts together random words to achieve the rhyme scheme and patterns such as comparing a bat to a tea-tray. But by making this odd comparison, Carroll shows us the absurdity of rhymes.
Related: Check out these weird facts about Mad hatter!
3. You Are Old, Father William
Another poem which features in this novel is ‘You are old, father William’. It is a hilarious and sarcastic nonsense poem recited by Alice to a Caterpillar. This parody of a popular children’s poem is now more famous than the original.
It is a fascinating exchange of dialogue between an old and a youth probably his son. The old man gives weird answers to the youth’s questions regarding his abilities to manage things well even in his old age.
According to the youth, the old man could stand on his head, eat the hard parts of the geese despite his weak jaws, somersault despite his physical deformity, balance an eel on the nose despite his poor eyesight.
This poem is interpreted as highlighting the generational difference and subsequent misconceptions about the other generation. You will find this poem amusing as father William finds subtle means to attack the youth’s incapability to do what he can.
C) Lewis Carroll Poems: Through The Looking Glass
If you have read Alice in Wonderland’s sequel Through the Looking Glass, you will be familiar with this poem. It was translated into 65 languages. Jabberwocky is the most celebrated and whimsical among Lewis Carroll poems.
This poem also gave a number of interesting blended words to the English vocabulary. Some of them are ‘galumphing’ which means noisily galloping or moving, ‘frumious’ meaning fumingly furious, ‘frabjous’ which denotes happily fantastic and ‘chortle’ meaning to laugh aloud.
The poem takes us through the fight between good and evil in a whimsical manner. The plot involves a man setting out to kill the Jabberwocky despite his father’s warning. However, he successfully kills him and brings its head back to his delighted father. That day was ‘frabjous’.
It is considered to be a parody of a German ballad in which a shepherd avenges a Griffin for harming his sheep. A Jabberwock is an imaginary creature which looks like a giant lizard with bat wings. It wears a waistcoat and breathes out lightning
Related: Read the analysis of Jabberwocky here
5. The Walrus and The Carpenter
This Lewis Carroll poem also made its appearance in the sequel. It is read out to Alice by Tweeledum and Tweedledee. Several contrasting images give you much to chew on.
The narrative poem is dark. The Walrus and the carpenter plan to go out for a walk. Four innocent baby oysters join them. They decide to eat together. In the disturbing end, Carroll shocks you by… wait, why don’t you read it and find out for yourself?
Carroll brings you close to the party by creating the cute conversations between the oysters, the Walrus and the carpenter. Many have reflected on the underlying meaning of this poem. Some even regarded the two main characters as Buddha and Jesus Christ.
Some others, as an allegory for the cunning nature of man controlled by his animal instinct. It could also be a warning against excessive curiosity. Or ultimately, it may not mean anything.
Whatever it is, this poem has the scope to widen your imagination. Each line is so graphic that you could vividly picture the whole story. Filled with literary devices, it makes up one of the most gripping Lewis Carroll poems mixed with suspense.
Related: Know more about the novel Through the Looking Glass by clicking here
D) Other Lewis Carroll Poems
6. The Mad Gardner’s Song
Want a good laugh? Check this out. The mad gardener’s song is yet another nonsense poem in the true sense. It appeared in Lewis Carroll’s book Sylvie and Bruno in 1889. It is sung by the lunatic gardener.
Apart from bringing together mismatched elements, it seems to be an attack on people Carroll hate. The entire poem sounds crazy with the poet mistaking something he hates for something else totally different. It has a humorous tone with the least expected comparisons.
At first sight, he mistook the letter from his wife for an elephant, his sister’s husband’s niece for a buffalo, a hippopotamus for the banker’s clerk and so it goes. Each stanza deals with each wrong picture. Don’t get your nose deep into the poem. He wrote it just to entertain you as he did the rest.
Related: Read up on Alice in Wonderland syndrome here
7. The Hunting of The Snark
This was the final literary piece, in fact, the last but important one in the long list of Lewis Carroll poems. Humorous and fun, it is his longest nonsense poem written in 1874. Reading this, you may feel a sense of deja vu. Yes, it has borrowed some words from the poem Jabberwocky.
As the title says, this poem is all about the hunting of the snark by a Bellman and his weird B-named crew members. The snark hunting was dangerous. If the hunted snark was a Boojum, it would make its hunter disappear. The poem has an underlying dark and eerie tone.
Carroll remained secretive on its meaning only confirming that it was indeed an allegory of the search for happiness. Even then, various interpretations have been attached to it, the popular one proposing that it is an allegory for Carroll’s personality and journey of life.
Carroll wrote this poem after the sudden death of his uncle at the hands of an asylum patient. This poem has gotten mixed reviews. Most have the view that it does not deserve the nonsense title while others appreciate this as a magnificent ending to his career.
Related: Know more about Lewis Carroll by clicking here
The world of Lewis Carroll is a topsy turvy land. Once inside, you will forget all the rules and mannerisms you must follow to act “sane and polite”. The best Lewis Carroll poems are the most nonsensical, breaking all the imagination barriers.
After all, all of us need a bit of insanity to live. Why do you think Carroll’s works appeal to kids? Not because they are insane, but because they are curious and daring to think beyond the thinkable.