The Humorous Verse of Lewis Carroll

The Humorous Verse of Lewis Carroll

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by Lewis Carroll

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Verse, puzzles, "The Hunting of the Snark," acrostics, poems from larger works — largest collection of Carroll verse in print. 130 illustrations by Tenniel, Carroll, others.
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Verse, puzzles, "The Hunting of the Snark," acrostics, poems from larger works — largest collection of Carroll verse in print. 130 illustrations by Tenniel, Carroll, others.

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Dover Publications
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The Humorous Verse of Lewis Carroll


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1933 Macmillan Company
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-11948-9




    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry, 1845)

    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."


    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry)

    MAN naturally loves delay,
    And to procrastinate;
    Business put off from day to day
    Is always done too late.

    Let every 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 your time,
    Than e'er 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.


    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry)


    THERE was an old farmer of Readall,
    Who made holes in his face with a needle,
    They went far deeper in
    Than to pierce through the skin,
    And yet strange to say he was made beadle.


    There was an eccentric old draper,
    Who wore a hat made of brown paper,
    It went up to a point,
    Yet it looked out of joint,
    The cause of which he said was "vapour."


    There was once a young man of Oporta,
    Who daily got shorter and shorter,
    The reason he said
    Was the hod on his head,
    Which was filled with the heaviest mortar.

    His sister, named Lucy O'Finner,
    Grew constantly thinner and thinner;
    The reason was plain,
    She slept out in the rain,
    And was never allowed any dinner.


    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry)

    "SISTER, sister, go to bed!
    Go and rest your weary head."
    Thus the prudent brother said.

    "Do you want a battered hide,
    Or scratches to your face applied?"
    Thus his sister calm replied.

    "Sister, do not raise my wrath.
    I'd make you into mutton broth
    As easily as kill a moth!"

    The sister raised her beaming eye
    And looked on him indignantly
    And sternly answered, "Only try!"

    Off to the cook he quickly ran.
    "Dear Cook, please lend a frying-pan
    To me as quickly as you can."

    "And wherefore should I lend it you?"
    "The reason, Cook, is plain to view.
    I wish to make an Irish stew."
    "What meat is in that stew to go?"
    "My sister'll be the contents!"
    "You'll lend the pan to me, Cook?"

    Moral: Never stew your sister.


    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry)

    WERE I to take an iron gun,
    And fire it off towards the sun;
    I grant 'twould reach its mark at last,
    But not till many years had passed.

    But should that bullet change its force,
    And to the planets take its course,
    'Twould never reach the nearest star,
    Because it is so very far.


    (From Useful and Instructive Poetry)

    A SHORT direction
    To avoid dejection,
    By variations
    In occupations,
    And prolongation
    Of relaxation,
    And combinations
    Of recreations,
    And disputation
    On the state of the nation
    In adaptation
    To your station,
    By invitations
    To friends and relations,
    By evitation
    Of amputation,
    By permutation
    In conversation,
    And deep reflection
    You'll avoid dejection.

    Learn well your grammar,
    And never stammer,
    Write well and neatly,
    And sing most sweetly,
    Be enterprising,
    Love early rising,
    Go walk of six miles,
    Have ready quick smiles,
    With lightsome laughter,
    Soft flowing after.
    Drink tea, not coffee;
    Never eat toffy.
    Eat bread with butter.
    Once more, don't stutter.
    Don't waste your money,
    Abstain from honey.
    Shut doors behind you,
    (Don't slam them, mind you.)
    Drink beer, not porter.
    Don't enter the water
    Till to swim you are able.
    Sit close to the table.
    Take care of a candle.
    Shut a door by the handle,
    Don't push with your shoulder
    Until you are older.
    Lose not a button.
    Refuse cold mutton.
    Starve your canaries.
    Believe in fairies.
    If you are able,
    Don't have a stable
    With any mangers.
    Be rude to strangers.

    Moral: Behave.


    (From The Rectory Magazine, 1850)

    ME THOUGHT I walked a dismal place
    Dim horrors all around;
    The air was thick with many a face,
    And black as night the ground.

    I saw a monster come with speed,
    Its face of grimmliest green,
    On human beings used to feed,
    Most dreadful to be seen.

    I could not speak, I could not fly,
    I fell down in that place,
    I saw the monster's horrid eye
    Come leering in my face!

    Amidst my scarcely-stifled groans,
    Amidst my moanings deep,
    I heard a voice, "Wake! Mr. Jones,
    You're screaming in your sleep!"


    (From The Rectory Magazine)

    IF such a thing had been my thought,
    I should have told you so before,
    But as I didn't, then you ought
    To ask for such a thing no more,
    For to teach one who has been taught
    Is always thought an awful bore.

    Now to commence my argument,
    I shall premise an observation,
    On which the greatest kings have leant
    When striving to subdue a nation,
    And e'en the wretch who pays no rent
    By it can solve a hard equation.

    Its truth is such, the force of reason
    Can not avail to shake its power,
    Yet e'en the sun in summer season
    Doth not dispel so mild a shower
    As this, and he who sees it, sees on
    Beyond it to a sunny bower—
    No more, when ignorance is treason,
    Let wisdom's brows be cold and sour.

    AS IT FELL UPON A DAY     (From The Rectory Magazine)

    As I was sitting on the hearth
    (And O, but a hog is fat!)
    A man came hurrying up the path,
    (And what care I for that?)

    When he came the house unto,
    His breath both quick and short he drew.

    When he came before the door,
    His face grew paler than before.

    When he turned the handle round,
    The man fell fainting to the ground.

    When he crossed the lofty hall,
    Once and again I heard him fall.

    When he came up to the turret stair,
    He shrieked and tore his raven hair.

    When he came my chamber in,
    (And O, but a hog is fat!)
    I ran him through with a golden pin,
    (And what care I for that?)


    (From The Rectory Umbrella. Illustrated by the author)

    YTTE wes a mirke an dreiry cave,
    Weet scroggis owr ytte creepe.
    Gurgles withyn ye flowan wave
    Throw channel braid an deep

    Never withyn that dreir recesse
    Wes sene ye lyghte of daye,
    Quhat bode azont yts mirkinesse
    Nane kend an nane mote saye.

    Ye monarche rade owr brake an brae
    An drave ye yellynge packe,
    Hiz meany au' richte cadgily
    Are wendynge yn hiz tracke.

    Wi' eager iye, wi' yalpe an crye
    Ye hondes yode down ye rocks,
    Ahead of au' their companye
    Renneth ye panky foxe.

    Ye foxe hes soughte that cave of awe v     Forewearied wi' hiz rin.
    Quha nou ys he sae bauld an braw
    To dare to enter yn ?
    Wi' eager bounde hes ilka honde
    Gane till that caverne dreir,
    Fou many a yowl ys hearde arounde,
    Fou many a screech of feir.

    Like ane wi' thirstie appetite
    Quha swalloweth orange pulp,
    Wes hearde a huggle an a bite,
    A swallow an a gulp.

    Ye kynge hes lap frae aff hiz steid,
    Outbrayde hiz trenchant brande;
    "Quha on my packe of hondes doth feed,
    Maun deye benead thilke hande."

    Sae sed, sae dune: ye stonderes hearde
    Fou many a mickle stroke,
    Sowns lyke ye flappynge of a birde,
    A struggle an a choke.

    Owte of ye cave scarce fette they ytte,
    Wi pow an push an hau' —
    Whereof Y've drawne a littel bytte,
    Bot durst nat draw ytte au.

    No. 1

    (From The Rectory Umbrella)

    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 sage 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 station
    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 latest train.

    Too long it were to tell of each conjecture
    Of chicken suicide, and poultry victim,
    The deadly frown, the stern and dreary lecture,
    The timid guess, "perhaps some needle pricked
    The din of voice, the words both loud and many,
    The sob, the tear, the sigh that none could
    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 that I have come upon
    The stoutest heart would sicken,
    That nasty hen has been and gone
    And killed another chicken!"


Excerpted from The Humorous Verse of Lewis Carroll by LEWIS CARROLL. Copyright © 1933 Macmillan Company. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Humorous Verse of Lewis Carroll 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
"Boop oop a doop."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*walks in and cuts my arm*