Friday, April 05, 2013

Blast from the Poetry Past: 1872

What do the ghosts of poetry past reveal today? 

Cover art by Sir John Tenniel
Classic illustration by Sir John Tenniel
The classic nonsense poem, "Jabberwocky,” by Lewis Carroll is featured as part of his novel, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, and is first published in 1872 (a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). It begins: 

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Jabberwocky" is generally considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in the English language.

Contemporary Connections
This poem has been much adapted, interpreted and parodied. You can find musical and video versions, graphic novel interpretations, and even Savage Chicken cartoons! For a literary version, look for Canadian publisher Kids Can Press and their graphic "Visions in Poetry" series. They have an intriguing book version illustrated by Stephane Jorisch that offers "a provocative commentary on contemporary media, politics, warfare, religion and gender roles."

Other picture book versions illustrated by Graeme Base or Joel Stewart offer younger readers interesting visual interpretations, too.

Don't miss the Poetry Friday party that PFA/PFAMS poet Robyn Hood Black is hosting over at Read, Write, Howl. See you there!

Posting by Sylvia M. Vardell © 2013. All rights reserved.



Lynda said...

I have published a story for young readers (RL 4.9) that shares more than thirty elements with Lewis Carroll's Alice books. In my eBook for Kindle or Nook entitled White Rabbit Time (Agent C Series by Lynda, Allie's older sister relives her memory of an incident with "a monster" in Chapter 9.

I like to use poetry within my prose too, though I can only attempt to achieve Carroll's amazing standards.

Janet Wong said...

When I first heard Myra Cohn Livingston speak, she recited "Jabberwocky" and I thought it was the most magical-sounding language ever. Those words do sound so primeval.

Irene Latham said...

I can't remember who reads "jabberwocky" on the Poetry Speaks for Children book and CD set, but it's a brilliant (British!) rendition. I *try* to channel it whenever I read this one aloud to students. Thanks, Sylvia!

Matt Forrest Esenwine said...

Whenever I read it, it reminds me of Middle English (aka, Chaucer's English)...and I start trying to decipher it. Then I remember it's nonsense - so I breathe a sigh of relief and just enjoy it!

Robyn Hood Black said...

I credit/blame Renée LaTulippe for making me Jabberwocky-obsessed for a bit last year - her rendition at No Water River was definitely more entertaining than what I remember hearing as a child! But I think I loved the poem even then.
You can find her video here:
Thanks again for this fantastic series, Sylvia!