LEWIS CAROLL – THE WALRUS AND THE CARPENTER

Of all the poetry from Lewis Carroll, this is my favorite. It is here because I like it. It serves no higher good and contains no hidden meaning. It is a poem that always makes me smile. Hope it brings you a smile, too.

BY LEWIS CARROLL

“The sun was shining on the sea,
      Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
      The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
      The middle of the night.
The moon was shining sulkily,
      Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
      After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
      “To come and spoil the fun.”
The sea was wet as wet could be,
      The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
      No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
      There were no birds to fly.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
      Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
      Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,’
      They said, it would be grand!’
If seven maids with seven mops
      Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said,
      That they could get it clear?’
I doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,
      And shed a bitter tear.
O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
      The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
      Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
      To give a hand to each.’
The eldest Oyster looked at him,
      But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
      And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
      To leave the oyster-bed.
But four young Oysters hurried up,
      All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
      Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
      They hadn’t any feet.
Four other Oysters followed them,
      And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
      And more, and more, and more —
All hopping through the frothy waves,
      And scrambling to the shore.
The Walrus and the Carpenter
      Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
      Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
      And waited in a row.
The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
      To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
      Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
      And whether pigs have wings.’
But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,
      Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
      And all of us are fat!’
No hurry!’ said the Carpenter.
      They thanked him much for that.
A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,
      Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
      Are very good indeed —
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
      We can begin to feed.’
But not on us!’ the Oysters cried,
      Turning a little blue.
After such kindness, that would be
      A dismal thing to do!’
The night is fine,’ the Walrus said.
      Do you admire the view?
It was so kind of you to come!
      And you are very nice!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
      Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf —
      I’ve had to ask you twice!’
It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,
      To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
      And made them trot so quick!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
      The butter’s spread too thick!’
I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:
      I deeply sympathize.’
With sobs and tears he sorted out
      Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
      Before his streaming eyes.
O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
      You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
      But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
      They’d eaten every one.”

I should also add that there is an inherent warning in this cute little poem to not be careless about who you decide to trust. Those with the smoothest lines may be the ones about to rip you off. A lesson I have painfully learned more than once.

It’s bad to fail to trust. It’s also bad to trust too easily and often!



Categories: Animals, Arts, Humor, Literature, poem, Poetry, Writing

Tags: , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. A very valuable lesson, and one I’ve also learned the hard way. Great poem though. Carroll was good at quirky verse. And it has made me smile, when I’m in need of respite from over-taxing revision. 🙂

    Like

    • I used to be able to recite “Jabberwocky” in its entirety because when everyone else in my college drama class was reciting Shakespeare, I was reciting Lewis Carroll. I just couldn’t take myself that seriously. I was maybe 17. Shakespeare? Really?

      Liked by 1 person

      • I love the Jabberwocky. We used to have a really quirky little café in Buckingham with quotes from it written all over the walls. I used to sit and read them while I sipped hot chocolate from a jam jar. Fab poem, and great fun. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Ah ha…when you hear “the time has come” beware?
    Leslie 😉

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  3. I am the walrus, Goo goo g’joob – Lennon said he was referring to this poem but later discovered that the walrus was not a good guy….

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    • He was a politician. I used to own a book called “The Annotated Alice” which gave histories on ALL the characters and the poems and the embedded mini-background stories, but it seems to have vanished. Maybe I gave it to the library. But I wish I’d kept it. It turns out that the answer to “Why is a raven like a writing desk” is NOTHING. They have nothing at all in common. He just threw that in to mess with people’s heads.

      Liked by 1 person

      • He was good at messing with people’s heads, but in such a clever way that we wanted our heads messed with. And that goes for Lennon too 😉 I have heard of that book. i should look it up sometime.

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        • I’m sure it’s out of print. I got it when I worked at Doubleday in the early 1970s when it first came out. I treasured it for years … which is why I can’t figure out what happened to it … unless I left it in Israel. I left a lot of stuff there.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Lewis Caroll one of my favourites. He was brilliant and years ahead of his time

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  5. I have read this after a long long time. Thanks for sharing. Indeed a lesson to be learned

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