“How Doth the Little Crocodile” appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Recited by Alice in Chapter 2, it describes a crocodile who lures fish into its mouth with a smile.
How Doth the Little Crocodile
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!
I suspect it’s the source of the idea for “Never Smile at a Crocodile” in Disney’s animated “Peter Pan” (1953).
It parodies a popular Victorian children’s poem:
How Doth the Little Busy Bee
How doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!
How skilfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labors hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.
In works of labor or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.
In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.
Lewis Carroll is my favorite poet. In this, one of his less well-known but nonetheless wonderful poems, he offers commentary on both parenthood and aging. I find myself relating. Really. No kidding.
Just for fun, I’ve included John Tenniel‘s original illustrations which accompanied the poem on publication.
The poem appears in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865) and is recited by Alice (Chapter 5, “Advice from a Caterpillar” which was Chapter 3 in the original manuscript, Alice’s Adventures Under Ground). Alice informs the caterpillar she has tried to repeat “How Doth the Little Busy Bee” and it came out all wrong as “How Doth the Little Crocodile”. The caterpillar asks her to repeat “You are old, Father William.”
Following is the poem she recites.
“You are old, Father William,” the young man said,
“And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head—
Do you think, at your age, it is right?”
“In my youth,” Father William replied to his son,
“I feared it might injure the brain;
But now that I’m perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.”
“You are old,” said the youth, “As I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door—
Pray, what is the reason of that?”
“In my youth,” said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
“I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment—one shilling the box—
Allow me to sell you a couple?”
“You are old,” said the youth, “And your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak—
Pray, how did you manage to do it?”
“In my youth,” said his father, “I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.”
“You are old,” said the youth, “one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose—
What made you so awfully clever?”
“I have answered three questions, and that is enough,”
Said his father; “don’t give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I’ll kick you down stairs!”
I have always felt kind of sorry for the oysters. Silly little shellfish, so foolishly trusting. “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is a narrative poem by Lewis Carroll. It appears in Through the Looking-Glass, (1871). The poem is recited in chapter 4, by Tweedledum and Tweedledee, to Alice.
Cee’s Odd Ball Photo Challenge: Week 30 Odd Ball Photos are those great photos that you take which really don’t seem to fit into a common category. We’ve all taken them and like them, because we just can’t hit delete and get rid of them. This week, I have but two little entries. Me and […]
Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, Polly put the kettle on, We’ll all have tea. — Sukey take it off again, Sukey take it off again, Sukey take it off again, They’ve all gone away.
The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear I The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea In a beautiful pea green boat, They took some honey, and plenty of money, Wrapped up in a five pound note. The Owl looked up to the stars above, And sang to a small guitar, ‘O lovely Pussy! O […]