Proserpina's WunderBlog

A must see # 115 Let's JABBERWOCK!

By: Proserpina, 1:47 AM GMT on October 13, 2011

jabberwock Pictures, Images and Photos


I often visit a website that teaches interesting expressions in Italian. The word that recently piqued my interest is supercazzola. Reading into the word I recognized an expression that in my youth was absolutely forbidden for my lips! I still do not ever utter such an expression. Intrigued with the naughty sounding word I went looking for its meaning and discovered that the closest translation into English is Jabberwocky! Aha, this is something that I know a little bit about and that I enjoy reading, so why not make Jabberwocky the theme for a new blog!


There was a book lying near Alice on the table and while she sat watching the White King (for she was still a little anxious about him, and had the ink all ready to throw over him, in case he fainted again), she turned over the leaves, to find some part that she could read, "--for it's all in some language I don't know", she said to herself.
It was like this.


She puzzled over this for some time, but at last a bright thought struck her. "Why, it's a Looking-glass book, of course! And if I hold it up to a glass, the words will all go the right way again."
This was the poem that Alice read:


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.

Origin and publication

A decade before the publication of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and the sequel Through the Looking Glass, Carroll wrote the first stanza to what would become "Jabberwocky" while in Croft on Tees, close to nearby Darlington, where he lived as a child, and printed it in 1855 in Mischmasch, a periodical he wrote and illustrated for the amusement of his family. The piece was titled "Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry".

The rest of the poem was written during Lewis Carroll's stay with relatives at Whitburn, near Sunderland. The story may have been partly inspired by the local Sunderland area legend of the Lambton Worm.

jabberwock Pictures, Images and Photos

John Tenniel reluctantly agreed to illustrate the book in 1871, and his illustrations are still the defining images of the poem.

Jabberwocky is considered one of the greatest nonsense poems written in English. Its playful, whimsical language has given us nonsense words and neologisms such as "galumphing" and "chortle".

Jabberwocky has been translated into at least 29 languages. The following are two examples of translations of the first stanza into Italian:

Il Ciarlavotto

By Pierfrancesco La Mura

Rostiva, e gli ascili titovi
Andean nell'eda a triva e a spiva:
Mievi stean i borogovi,
E i duti ranchi esgrivan.


Il Ciarlestrone

by Adriana Crespi

Era brillosto, e gli alacridi tossi
succhiellavano scabbi nel pantúle:
Méstili eran tutti i paparossi,
e strombavan musando i tartarocchi.

(The full translations can be found at: cky.html)

jabberwock Pictures, Images and Photos

Of course there have been many humorous interpretations of Jabberwocky, the following first stanzas are a few examples:


Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysili ogogogochiwoci

by Peter Cole, 1998

'Twas Barry and the Swansea Trapp
Did Gwalchmai Gwbert in the Porth;
All Merthyr were the Blaenavon
And the Caersws Aberporth

Peter Cole writes:
I couldn't fit the full name "Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysili ogogogoch" in to the body of the poem, but have contracted it to its commonly abbreviated form. Contrary to popular belief this is not actually the longest Welsh place name - that distinction is held by "Gorsafawddacha'idraigodanheddogleddollonpenrhynar eurdraethceredigion" The meanings of these two ludicrous constructions are respectively: "Saint Mary's church in the hollow of the white hazel near to the rapid whirlpool of Saint Tysilio of the red cave" and "The Mawddach station and its dragon teeth at the Northern Penrhyn Road on the golden beach of Cardigan Bay"


On Dreaming, After Falling Asleep Watching TV

by Isabelle Di Caprio

'Twas Brillo, and the G.E. Stoves,
Did Procter-Gamble in the Glade;
All Pillsbury were the Taystee loaves
And in a Minute Maid.

The parody refers to a lot of products and brands advertised heavily at the time. Some of them aren't around anymore.

3. Botaniwocky

by Peter Cole, 1998

'Twas Byblis and the sepal traps
did gland and grumous in the whorl
All motile were the bladderworts
and the monstrose unfurled

This is written in the carnivorous plant dialect of Botany.

4. Places:


by Paul Kieffer

'Twas Bergen and the Erie road
Did Mahwah into Paterson;
All Jersey were the Ocean Groves
And the Red Bank Bayonne.

For more Jabberwocky samples please go to: tml.

For more information on the influences and uses of Jabberwocky please go to: Jabberwockies seem to pop up all over the place... print... my email... ...on the big screen... ...on the little screen... ...on stage... schools... translation... stores... art... games... sports... ...on vacation... food... song... pets... ...hopefully NOT on your disks... ...on FidoNet... ...even on the net... ...hey! You forgot one!

jabberwock Pictures, Images and Photos


You might be interested on posting anything about or from "Alice in Wonderland", it is one of my very favorite stories.

Updated: 1:10 PM GMT on October 30, 2011


The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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