Shadow Poetry Logo
Home Poetry Types Japanese Poetry Handbook Poetry Guide Resources Bookstore
Writing & Publishing Books   |   Classic Reading   |   Movies   |   Famous Poets   |   Magnet Poetry   |   Word Wizard Competition

Famous Poets:

  bullet   Maya Angelou
  bullet   Matthew Arnold
  bullet   Elizabeth Bishop
  bullet   William Blake
  bullet   Anne Bradstreet
  bullet   The Brontė Sisters
  bullet   Robert Browning
  bullet   Lord Byron
  bullet   Lewis Carroll
  bullet   E. E. Cummings
  bullet   Samuel Daniel
  bullet   Emily Dickinson
  bullet   T. S. Eliot
  bullet   Ralph Waldo Emerson
  bullet   Eugene Field
  bullet   Robert Frost
  bullet   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
  bullet   Ernest Hemingway
  bullet   Langston Hughes
  bullet   James Joyce
  bullet   John Keats
  bullet   Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  bullet   Sylvia Plath
  bullet   Edgar Allan Poe
  bullet   William Shakespeare
  bullet   Percy Bysshe Shelley
  bullet   Robert Louis Stevenson
  bullet   Alfred, Lord Tennyson
  bullet   Dylan Thomas
  bullet   Walt Whitman
  bullet   William Wordsworth
  bullet   William Butler Yeats

Lewis Carroll

Born: January 27, 1832 // Died: January 14, 1898

Lewis Carroll Carroll, Lewis, pseudonym of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98), English logician, mathematician, photographer, and novelist, best known for his fantasy, Alice in Wonderland. Dodgson was the eldest son and third child in a family of seven girls and four boys born to Frances Jane Lutwidge, the wife of the Rev. Charles Dodgson. He was born in Daresbury, Cheshire, on Jan 27, 1832. His father was perpetual curate there from 1827 until 1843, when he became rector of Croft in Yorkshire - a post he held until his death on Jan 14, 1898 in Guildford, Surrey.

His family lived in an isolated country village and had few friends outside the family but found little difficulty in entertaining themselves. Charles showed a great aptitude for inventing games to amuse them. The "Rectory Magazines", manuscript compilations to which the family were supposed to contribute, were created when he was 12. Young Dodgson attended Richmond School, Yorkshire (1844-45), and then Rugby School (1846-50). He endured several illnesses during this period, one of which left him deaf in one ear. After Rugby he spent a further year being tutored by his father, during which he matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford (May 23, 1850). He went into residence as an undergraduate there on Jan. 24, 1851. Alice in Wonderland grew out of Dodgson's entertainment of the children of Henry George Liddell, dean of Christ Church. He had a natural affinity for children, having been the eldest son with eight younger brothers and sisters. He also spoke naturally and easily to children, a relief to him since he suffered from a bad stammer. Alice Liddell and her sisters Lorina and Edith were not, of course, the first of Dodgson's child friends. Dodgson had also enjoyed the company of the children of the writer George Macdonald, the sons of the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and various other chance acquaintances. The Liddell children, however, undoubtedly held an especially high place in his affections.

Alice in Wonderland began as a tale spun by Dodgson, when on July 4, 1862, Dodgson and his friend Robinson Duckworth, fellow of Trinity, rowed the three Liddell children up the Thames from Oxford to Godstow. They picnicked on the bank, and returned to Christ Church late in the evening. The fairy-tale of Alice's Adventures Underground was told to the children during this occasion. Much of the story was based on a picnic a couple of weeks earlier when they had all been caught in the rain; for some reason, this inspired Dodgson to tell so much better a story than usual that both Duckworth and Alice noticed the difference, and Alice went so far as to plead Dodgson to write down the story.

Later in life, Dodgson attempted a return to the Alice vein but only produced Sylvie and Bruno (1889) and its second volume, Sylvie and Bruno Concluded (1893), both regarded as failures by critics, though the two novels taken together are a study of the man. His poems and verses were collected in 1869 as Phantasmagoria and Other Poems and later (with additions) as Rhyme? and Reason? (1883) and Three Sunsets and Other Poems (published posthumously, 1898).

  Lewis Carroll's Poetry: (click on a title to read a poem)
  A Boat Beneath A Sunny...   How Doth The Little...   Jabberwocky
  Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur   The Walrus And The...   You Are Old, Father William
  Punctuality   My Fairy   Madrigal
  A Game of Fives   The Palace of Humbug   Lays of Sorrow

A Boat Beneath A Sunny Sky
A BOAT beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July --
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden dream --
Life, what is it but a dream?


How Doth The Little Crocodile
"How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!"

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"
He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree.
And stood awhile in thought.
And as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came wiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!
One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.
"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
He chortled in his joy.
'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
"It seems very pretty," she said when she
had finished it, "but it's rather hard to under
stand!" (You see she didn't like to confess, even
to herself, that she couldn't make it out at all.)
"Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas
-- only I don't exactly know what they are!
However, somebody killed something: that's clear,
at any rate --"
 "You seem very clever at explaining words,
Sir," said Alice. "Would you kindly tell me the
meaning of the poem called `Jabberwocky'?"
"Let's hear it," said Humpty Dumpty. "I
can explain all the poems that ever were in
vented -- and a good many that haven't been
invented just yet."
This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated
the first verse:
"'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe."
"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
"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 gimlet."
"And `the wabe' is the grass-plot round a
sundial, 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,"
added Alice.
"Exactly so. Well, then, `mimsy' is `flimsy and miser
able' (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 raths'?" 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?"

Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur
"How shall I be a poet?
How shall I write in rhyme?
You told me once `the very wish
Partook of the sublime.'
The tell me how! Don't put me off
With your `another time'!"
The old man smiled to see him,
To hear his sudden sally;
He liked the lad to speak his mind
And thought "There's no hum-drum in him,
Nor any shilly-shally."
"And would you be a poet
Before you've been to school?
Ah, well! I hardly thought you
So absolute a fool.
First learn to be spasmodic --
A very simple rule.
"For first you write a sentence,
And then you chop it small;
Then mix the bits, and sort them out
Just as they chance to fall:
The order of the phrases makes
No difference at all.
`Then, if you'd be impressive,
Remember what I say,
That abstract qualities begin
With capitals alway:
The True, the Good, the Beautiful --
Those are the things that pay!
"Next, when we are describing
A shape, or sound, or tint;
Don't state the matter plainly,
But put it in a hint;
And learn to look at all things
With a sort of mental squint."
"For instance, if I wished, Sir,
Of mutton-pies to tell,
Should I say `dreams of fleecy flocks
Pent in a wheaten cell'?"
"Why, yes," the old man said: "that phrase
Would answer very well.
"Then fourthly, there are epithets
That suit with any word --
As well as Harvey's Reading Sauce
With fish, or flesh, or bird --
Of these, `wild,' `lonely,' `weary,' `strange,'
Are much to be preferred."
"And will it do, O will it do
To take them in a lump --
As `the wild man went his weary way
To a strange and lonely pump'?"
"Nay, nay! You must not hastily
To such conclusions jump.
"Such epithets, like pepper,
Give zest to what you write;
And, if you strew them sparely,
They whet the appetite:
But if you lay them on too thick,
You spoil the matter quite!
"Last, as to the arrangement:
Your reader, you should show him,
Must take what information he
Can get, and look for no im
mature disclosure of the drift
And purpose of your poem.
"Therefore to test his patience --
How much he can endure --
Mention no places, names, or dates,
And evermore be sure
Throughout the poem to be found
Consistently obscure.
"First fix upon the limit
To which it shall extend:
Then fill it up with `Padding'
(Beg some of any friend)
You place towards the end."
"And what is a Sensation,
Grandfather, tell me, pray?
I think I never heard the word
So used before to-day:
Be kind enough to mention one
`Exempli gratiā'"
And the old man, looking sadly
Across the garden-lawn,
Where here and there a dew-drop
Yet glittered in the dawn,
Said "Go to the Adelphi,
And see the `Colleen Bawn.'
"The word is due to Boucicault --
The theory is his,
Where Life becomes a Spasm,
And History a Whiz:
If that is not Sensation,
I don't know what it is,
"Now try your hand, ere Fancy
Have lost its present glow --"
"And then," his grandson added,
"We'll publish it, you know:
Green cloth -- gold-lettered at the back --
In duodecimo!"
Then proudly smiled that old man
To see the eager lad
Rush madly for his pen and ink
And for his blotting-pad --
But, when he thought of publishing,
His face grew stern and sad.

The Walrus And The Carpenter
"The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright --
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done --
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun."
The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead --
There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
`If this were only cleared away,'
They said, `it would be grand!'
`If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,' the Walrus said,
`That they could get it clear?'
`I doubt it,' said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.
`O Oysters, come and walk with us!'
The Walrus did beseech.
`A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.'
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head --
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shows were clean and neat --
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more --
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.
`The time has come,' the Walrus said,
`To talk of many things:
Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax --
Of cabbages -- and kings --
And why the sea is boiling hot --
And whether pigs have wings.'
`But wait a bit,' the Oysters cried,
`Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!'
`No hurry!' said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.
`A loaf of bread,' the Walrus said,
`Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed --
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.'
`But not on us!' the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
`After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!'
`The night is fine,' the Walrus said.
`Do you admire the view?
`It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
`Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf --
I've had to ask you twice!'
It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
`To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!'
The Carpenter said nothing but
`The butter's spread too thick!'
I weep for you,' the Walrus said:
`I deeply sympathize.'
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.
`O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
`You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none --
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one."

You Are Old, Father William
"You are old, father William," the young man said,
"And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head --
Do you think, at your age, it is right?"
"In my youth," father William replied to his son,
"I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again."
"You are old," said the youth, "as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door --
Pray, what is the reason of that?"
"In my youth," said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
"I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment -- one shilling the box --
Allow me to sell you a couple."
"You are old," said the youth, "and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak --
Pray, how did you manage to do it?"
"In my youth," said his father, "I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life."
"You are old," said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose --
What made you so awfully clever?"
"I have answered three questions, and that is enough,"
Said his father; "don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!"

Man Naturally loves delay,
And to procrastinate;
Business put off from day to day
Is always done to late.

Let ever hour be in its place
Firm fixed, nor loosely shift,
And well enjoy the vacant space,
As though a birthday gift.

And when the hour arrives, be there,
Where'er that "there" may be;
Uncleanly hands or ruffled hair
Let no one ever see.

If dinner at "half-past" be placed,
At "half-past" then be dressed.
If at a "quarter-past" make haste
To be down with the rest

Better to be before you time,
Than e're to be behind;
To ope the door while strikes the chime,
That shows a punctual mind.


Let punctuality and care
Seize every flitting hour,
So shalt thou cull a floweret fair,
E'en from a fading flower

My Fairy
I have a fairy by my side
Which says I must not sleep,
When once in pain I loudly cried
It said "You must not weep"
If, full of mirth, I smile and grin,
It says "You must not laugh"
When once I wished to drink some gin
It said "You must not quaff".

When once a meal I wished to taste
It said "You must not bite"
When to the wars I went in haste
It said "You must not fight".

"What may I do?" at length I cried,
Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied,
And said "You must not ask".

Moral: "You mustn't."

(To Miss May Forshall.)

HE shouts amain, he shouts again,
(Her brother, fierce, as bluff King Hal),
"I tell you flat, I shall do that!"
She softly whispers " 'May' for 'shall'!"
He wistful sighed one eventide
(Her friend, that made this Madrigal),
"And shall I kiss you, pretty Miss!"
Smiling she answered " 'May' for 'shall'!"

With eager eyes my reader cries,
"Your friend must be indeed a val-
-uable child, so sweet, so mild!
What do you call her?" "May For shall."

Dec. 24, 1877.

A Game of Fives
Five litte girls of Five, Four, Three, Two, One:
Rolling on the hearthrug, full of tricks and fun.
Five rosy girls, in years from Ten to Six:
Sitting down to lessons--no more time for tricks.

Five growing girls, from Fifteen to Eleven:
Music, Drawing, Languages, and food enough for seven!

Five winsome girls, from Twenty to Sixteen:
Each young man that calls, I say "Now tell me which you mean!"

Five dashing girls, the youngest Twenty-one:
But, if nobody proposes, what is there to be done?

Five showy girls--but Thirty is an age
When girls may be engaging, but they somehow don't engage.

Five dressy girls, of Thirty-one or more:
So gracious to the shy young men they snubbed so much before!

* * * * * * * * * * * *

Five passe girls--Their age? Well, never mind!
We jog along together, like the rest of human kind:

But the quondam "careless bachelor" begins to think he knows
The answer to that ancient problem "how the money goes"!

The Palace of Humbug
I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,
And each damp thing that creeps and crawls
Went wobble-wobble on the walls.

Faint odours of departed cheese,
Blown on the dank, unwholesome breeze,
Awoke the never ending sneeze.

Strange pictures decked the arras drear,
Strange characters of woe and fear,
The humbugs of the social sphere.

One showed a vain and noisy prig,
That shouted empty words and big
At him that nodded in a wig.

And one, a dotard grim and gray,
Who wasteth childhood's happy day
In work more profitless than play.

Whose icy breast no pity warms,
Whose little victims sit in swarms,
And slowly sob on lower forms.

And one, a green thyme-honoured Bank,
Where flowers are growing wild and rank,
Like weeds that fringe a poisoned tank.

All birds of evil omen there
Flood with rich Notes the tainted air,
The witless wanderer to snare.

The fatal Notes neglected fall,
No creature heeds the treacherous call,
For all those goodly Strawn Baits Pall.

The wandering phantom broke and fled,
Straightway I saw within my head
A vision of a ghostly bed,

Where lay two worn decrepit men,
The fictions of a lawyer's pen,
Who never more might breathe again.

The serving-man of Richard Roe
Wept, inarticulate with woe:
She wept, that waiting on John Doe.

"Oh rouse", I urged, "the waning sense
With tales of tangled evidence,
Of suit, demurrer, and defence."

"Vain", she replied, "such mockeries:
For morbid fancies, such as these,
No suits can suit, no plea can please."

And bending o'er that man of straw,
She cried in grief and sudden awe,
Not inappropriately, "Law!"

The well-remembered voice he knew,
He smiled, he faintly muttered "Sue!"
(Her very name was legal too.)

The night was fled, the dawn was nigh:
A hurricane went raving by,
And swept the Vision from mine eye.

Vanished that dim and ghostly bed,
(The hangings, tape; the tape was red:)
'Tis o'er, and Doe and Roe are dead!

Oh, yet my spirit inly crawls,
What time it shudderingly recalls
That horrid dream of marble halls!

Lays of Sorrow
The day was wet, the rain fell souse
Like jars of strawberry jam, a
sound was heard in the old henhouse,
A beating of a hammer.
Of stalwart form, and visage warm,
Two youths were seen within it,
Splitting up an old tree into perches for their poultry
At a hundred strokes a minute.
The work is done, the hen has taken
Possession of her nest and eggs,
Without a thought of eggs and bacon,
(Or I am very much mistaken:)
She turns over each shell,
To be sure that all's well,
Looks into the straw
To see there's no flaw,
Goes once round the house,
Half afraid of a mouse,
Then sinks calmly to rest
On the top of her nest,
First doubling up each of her legs.
Time rolled away, and so did every shell,
"Small by degrees and beautifully less,"
As the large mother with a powerful spell
Forced each in turn its contents to express,
But ah! "imperfect is expression,"
Some poet said, I don't care who,
If you want to know you must go elsewhere,
One fact I can tell, if you're willing to hear,
He never attended a Parliament Session,
For I'm certain that if he had ever been there,
Full quickly would he have changed his ideas,
With the hissings, the hootings, the groans and the cheers.
And as to his name it is pretty clear
That it wasn't me and it wasn't you!

And so it fell upon a day,
(That is, it never rose again)
A chick was found upon the hay,
Its little life had ebbed away.
No longer frolicsome and gay,
No longer could it run or play.
"And must we, chicken, must we part?"
Its master cried with bursting heart,
And voice of agony and pain.
So one, whose ticket's marked "Return",
When to the lonely roadside stateion
He flies in fear and perturbation,
Thinks of his home--the hissing urn--
Then runs with flying hat and hair,
And, entering, finds to his despair
He's missed the very last train.

Too long it were to tell of each conjecture
Of chicken suicide, and poultry victim,
The deadly frown, the stern anddreary lecture,
The timid guess, "perhaps some needle pricked him!"
The din of voice, the words both loud and many,
The sob, the tear, the sigh that none could smother,
Till all agreed "a shilling to a penny
It killed itself, and we acquit the mother!"
Scarce was the verdict spoken,
When that still calm was broken,
A childish form hath burst into the throng;
With tears and looks of sadness,
That bring no news of gladness,
But tell too surely something hath gone wrong!
"The sight I have come upon
The stoutest heart would sicken,
That nasty hen has been and gone
And killed another chicken!"

Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Found There (London: Macmillan and Co., 1872): 21-24, 72-79, 223. Brabant Carroll Collection C37 T476 1872 copy 3. Fisher Rare Book Library. First Publication Date: 1872.

Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1866): 20-21, 63-66. [First American edition.] Brabant Carroll Collection C37 A44 1866 Fisher Rare Book Library. First Publication Date: 1866.

Lewis Carroll, Rhyme? and Reason? (London: Macmillan, 1883): 122-30. B-10 6733 Fisher Rare Book Library. First Publication Date: 1883.

  Back to Top

Writing & Publishing Books   |   Classic Reading   |   Movies   |   Famous Poets   |   Magnet Poetry   |   Word Wizard Competition
Home Poetry Types Japanese Poetry Handbook Poetry Guide Resources Bookstore
Copyright © 2000-2013 Shadow Poetry | Privacy Policy | Contact Us