Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Jabberwock's Waistcoat

Lewis Carroll’s masterpiece, “The Jabberwocky,” is perhaps the zenith of nonsense poetry, whose titular villain is deliciously suited to stalk the wilds behind the Looking-Glass. The origin of the poem began in a periodical the young Charles Dodgson (years before Alice and the pseudonym of Lewis Carroll) composed exclusively for the delight of his family entitled “Mischmasch.” The poem at this time consisted of only the first stanza, and was named respectively, “Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry.” The original verse was hand-lettered by Dodgson in slightly varied spelling from its present form in “Through the Looking-Glass,” as well as accompanied by definitions slightly differing from Humpty Dumpty’s. The original poem ran thus:

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

This wonderful bit of fun was later lengthened of course to what is presented in Alice’s second adventure, where it confessed an even more alarming world filled with bizarre flora and several new beasties including its fantastical namesake, the Jabberwock. Sir John Tenniel’s original illustration is quite a treat to look at, and it is amusing to note Carroll’s initial apprehension to it with regard to its potential of possibly frightening his younger readers. Fortunately, Tenniel’s Jabberwock remained and has forever been a particular feast for the eyes hiding within the pages of “Through the Looking-Glass.” One aspect of Tenniel’s illustration that has always warmed my heart is his inclusion of a waistcoat about the ferocious bugbear so pandemically feared. With my interpretation of the poem I attempted a similar path in beastly apparel, and of course, tried to retain all the attributes defined in the story, as well as the Tumtum tree. I do hope my contribution offers some degree of amusement.

The poem "The Jabberwocky" in its entirety found in "Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There." Nonsense at its very finest -

'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.

- Lewis Carroll


  1. Why thank you, both! He was quite a treat to pen -

  2. What a fearsome beastie! fine work Mr Larson.

  3. Much appreciated, Sam! Happy he confesses a healthy amount of fright;)

  4. Hello! so glad you joined my adventures - I shall be glad to have you in the magic bag providing some entertainment! - Anything that includes the word mimsy has earned it's place there.

  5. Just amazing. I adore your Jabberwock; thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Thank you so much, s00j - I'm happy you like him:)