Jabberwocky Variations
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Most Important of the Poems

Anne Clark

Most important of the poems in the books is "Jabberwocky". This takes as its first and last verse the "Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry" which Dodgson had composed as ealy as 1855 to amuse his family.


The poem indicates Dodgson's complete ignorance of the Anglo-Saxon language and poetic tradition: he knew nothing of its basic vocabulary, its inflexions and word order; and he was apparently unfamiliar with the spring rhythm which Anglo-Saxon poets employed. His poem was rhymed, a convention unknown in Old English. Yet none of this matters. Enlightened scholars and general readers alike found their imaginations captured by the poem.


Though Through the Looking Glass tended to be less popular with translators than Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, translations of "Jabberwocky" continued to appear, and the poem has made almost as strong an appeal to illustrators as a separate entity as Alice's Adventures.

Clark, Anne. The Real Alice. Stein and Day: New York, 1981. ISBN 0-8128-2870-4.

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