Carroll, Lewis

Britain, (1832-1898)

The Barrister’s Dream

  1. They sought it they sought it with care;
  2. They pursued it with forks and hope;
  3. They threatened its life with a railway-share;
  4. They charmed it with smiles and soap.
  5.  
  6. But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
  7. That the Beaver’s lace-making was wrong,
  8. Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
  9. That his fancy had dwelt on so long.
  10.  
  11. He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
  12. Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
  13. Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
  14. On the charge of deserting its sty.
  15.  
  16. The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
  17. That the sty was deserted when found:
  18. And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
  19. In a soft under-current of sound.
  20.  
  21. The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
  22. And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
  23. And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
  24. What the pig was supposed to have done.
  25.  
  26. The Jury had each formed a different view
  27. (Long before the indictment was read),
  28. And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
  29. One word that the others had said.
  30.  
  31. “You must know —” said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed “Fudge!”
  32. That statute is obsolete quite!
  33. Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
  34. On an ancient manorial right.
  35.  
  36. “In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
  37. To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
  38. While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
  39. If you grant the plea ‘never indebted.
  40.  
  41. “The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;
  42. But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
  43. (So far as relates to the costs of this suit)
  44. By the Alibi which has been proved.
  45.  
  46. “My poor client’s fate now depends on your votes.”
  47. Here the speaker sat down in his place,
  48. And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
  49. And briefly to sum up the case.
  50.  
  51. But the Judge said he never had summed up before;
  52. So the Snark undertook it instead,
  53. And summed it so well that it came to far more
  54. Than the Witnesses ever had said!
  55.  
  56. When the verdict was called for, the Jury declined,
  57. As the word was so puzzling to spell;
  58. But they ventured to hope that the Snark wouldn’t mind
  59. Undertaking that duty as well.
  60.  
  61. So the Snark found the verdict, although, as it owned,
  62. It was spent with the toils of the day:
  63. When it said the word “GUILTY!” the Jury all groaned,
  64. And some of them fainted away.
  65.  
  66. Then the Snark pronounced sentence, the Judge being quite
  67. Too nervous to utter a word:
  68. When it rose to its feet, there was silence like night,
  69. And the fall of a pin might be heard.
  70.  
  71. “Transportation for life” was the sentence it gave,
  72. “And then to be fined forty pound.”
  73. The Jury all cheered, though the Judge said he feared
  74. That the phrase was not legally sound.
  75.  
  76. But their wild exultation was suddenly checked
  77. When the jailer informed them, with tears,
  78. Such a sentence would have not the slightest effect,
  79. As the pig had been dead for some years.
  80.  
  81. The Judge left the Court, looking deeply disgusted:
  82. But the Snark, though a little aghast,
  83. As the lawyer to whom the defence was intrusted,
  84. Went bellowing on to the last.
  85.  
  86. Thus the Barrister dreamed, while the bellowing seemed
  87. To grow every moment more clear:
  88. Till he woke to the knell of a furious bell,
  89. Which the Bellman rang close at his ear.

The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits, (1876).
Fit VI. — The Barrister’s Dream.

The Pig’s Tale

  1. Little Birds are dining
  2. Warily and well,
  3. Hid in mossy cell:
  4. Hid, I say, by waiters
  5. Gorgeous in their gaiters —
  6. I’ve a Tale to tell.
  7.  
  8. Little Birds are feeding
  9. Justices with jam,
  10. Rich in frizzled ham:
  11. Rich, I say, in oysters
  12. Haunting shady cloisters —
  13. That is what I am.
  14.  
  15. Little Birds are teaching
  16. Tigresses to smile,
  17. Innocent of guile:
  18. Smile, I say, not smirkle —
  19. Mouth a semicircle,
  20. That’s the proper style.
  21.  
  22. Little Birds are sleeping
  23. All among the pins,
  24. Where the loser wins:
  25. Where, I say, he sneezes
  26. When and how he pleases —
  27. So the Tale begins.
  28.  
  29. There was a Pig that sat alone
  30. Beside a ruined Pump:
  31. By day and night he made his moan —
  32. It would have stirred a heart of stone
  33. To see him wring his hoofs and groan,
  34. Because he could not jump.
  35.  
  36. A certain Camel heard him shout —
  37. A Camel with a hump.
  38. “Oh, is it Grief, or is it Gout?
  39. What is this bellowing about?”
  40. That Pig replied, with quivering snout,
  41. “Because I cannot jump!”
  42.  
  43. That Camel scanned him, dreamy-eyed.
  44. “Methinks you are too plump.
  45. I never knew a Pig so wide —
  46. That wobbled so from side to side —
  47. Who could, however much he tried,
  48. Do such a thing as jump!
  49.  
  50. “Yet mark those trees, two miles away,
  51. All clustered in a clump:
  52. If you could trot there twice a day,
  53. Nor ever pause for rest or play,
  54. In the far future — Who can say? —
  55. You may be fit to jump.”
  56.  
  57. That Camel passed, and left him there,
  58. Beside the ruined Pump.
  59. Oh, horrid was that Pig’s despair!
  60. His shrieks of anguish filled the air.
  61. He wrung his hoofs, he rent his hair,
  62. Because he could not jump.
  63.  
  64. There was a Frog that wandered by —
  65. A sleek and shining lump:
  66. Inspected him with fishy eye,
  67. And said “O Pig, what makes you cry?”
  68. And bitter was that Pig’s reply,
  69. “Because I cannot jump!”
  70.  
  71. That Frog he grinned a grin of glee,
  72. And hit his chest a thump.
  73. “O Pig,” he said, “be ruled by me,
  74. And you shall see what you shall see.
  75. This minute, for a trifling fee,
  76. I’ll teach you how to jump!
  77.  
  78. “You may be faint from many a fall,
  79. And bruised by many a bump:
  80. But, if you persevere through all,
  81. And practise first on something small,
  82. Concluding with a ten-foot wall,
  83. You’ll find that you can jump!”
  84.  
  85. That Pig looked up with joyful start:
  86. “Oh Frog, you are a trump!
  87. Your words have healed my inward smart —
  88. Come, name your fee and do your part:
  89. Bring comfort to a broken heart,
  90. By teaching me to jump!”
  91.  
  92. “My fee shall be a mutton-chop,
  93. My goal this ruined Pump.
  94. Observe with what an airy flop
  95. I plant myself upon the top!
  96. Now bend your knees and take a hop,
  97. For that’s the way to jump!”
  98.  
  99. Uprose that Pig, and rushed, full whack,
  100. Against the ruined Pump:
  101. Rolled over like an empty sack,
  102. And settled down upon his back,
  103. While all his bones at once went “Crack!”
  104. It was a fatal jump.

Sylvie and Bruno Concluded, (1893).
Ch 23, ‘Bruno’s Lessons’.

About the Poet

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), pen name of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, a British mathematician, writer and a member of the faculty of mathematics at the University of Oxford.

Carroll’s stories about Alice and Wonderland, were invented to amuse Alice Liddell, the daughter of a friend, Henry George Liddell, dean of Christ Church College. He was also a pioneer photographer, often choosing children as the subject of his portraits. [DES-6/03]

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