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Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky is a poem by Lewis Carroll which appears in Through the Looking-Glass.

Jabberwocky
By Lewis Carroll
 
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 whiffling 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.

Glossary

In the book, the character of Humpty-Dumpty gives definitions for the following words from the first verse. Lewis Carroll came up with other versions too.

"Brillig"
means four o'clock in the afternoon--the time when you begin broiling things for dinner.
"Slithy"
means "lithe and slimy."
"toves"
are something like badgers--they're something like lizards--and they're something like corkscrews. They are very curious looking creatures which make their nests under sun-dials--also they live on cheese.
To "gyre"
is to go round and round like a gyroscope - Gyre is an actual word, circa 1566 a circular or spiral motion or form; especially : a giant circular oceanic surface current.
To "gimble"
is to make holes like a gimlet.
The "wabe"
is the grass-plot round a sun-dial. It's called "wabe" : because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it--and a long way beyond it on each side.
"Mimsy"
is "flimsy and miserable" :
"borogove"
is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round--something like a live mop.
"Rath"
is a sort of green pig.
"Mome"
is (possibly) short for "from home" :--meaning that the raths had lost their way.
"Outgribing"
is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle

The poem Jabberwocky is found in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll. It has since become famous around the world, with translations into many languages, including Spanish, German, Latin, French, Italian, and Esperanto. The following translations of the first verse are due to Frank L. Warrin (in French) and Robert Scott (in German):

Il brilgue: les tôves lubricilleux
Se gyrent en vrillant dans le guave.
Enmîmès sont les gougebosqueux
Et le mômerade horsgrave.

Es brillig war. Die schlichten Toven
Wirrten und wimmelten in Waben;
Und aller-mümsige Burggoven
Die mohmen Räth' ausgrabren.

This task of translation is the more notable because many of the principal words of the poem were simply made up by Carroll, having had no previous meaning. A couple of these words, notably "chortle" (derived from "chuckle" and "snort"), have entered the popular lexicon. The word "jabberwocky" itself is sometimes used to refer to nonsense language. The glossary above is from Through the Looking-Glass.

The poem is particularly interesting because, although it contains many nonsensical words, the structure is perfectly consistent with classic English poetry. The sentence structure is accurate (another aspect that has been challenging to reproduce in other languages), the poetic forms are observed (e.g. quatrain verse, rhymed, iambic meter), and a "story" is somewhat discernible in the flow of events. The result of mixing this with the many nonsense words has often been interpreted as a satirical look at poetry that is excellent in form but inferior in content.

An extended analysis of the poem is given in The Annotated Alice, including writings from Carroll about how he formed some of his idiosyncratic words.


Jabberwocky (1977) is a film by Monty Python's resident animator, Terry Gilliam.

details, please?


Jabberwocky is also the name of a Saturday morning children's TV show that only aired for two seasons in the early 1970s, but was rerun in the wee hours of Saturday mornings by many TV stations up until the 1990s.



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