Saturday, September 13, 2008

Classic Poetry: Topsy-Turvy World (William B. Rands)

Guy Fawkes portrait, unknown artist

If the butterfly courted the bee,

-----And the owl the porcupine;

If churches were built in the sea,

-----And three times one was nine;

If the pony rode his master,

-----If the buttercups ate the cows,

If the cats had the dire disaster

-----To be worried, sir, by the mouse;

If mamma, sir, sold the baby

-----To a gypsy for half a crown;

If a gentleman, sir, was a lady,—

-----The world would be Upside-down!

If any or all of these wonders

-----Should ever come about,

I should not consider them blunders,

-----For I should be Inside-out!


Ba-ba, black wool,

-----Have you any sheep?

Yes, sir, a packfull,

-----Creep, mouse, creep!

Four-and-twenty little maids

-----Hanging out the pie,

Out jump’d the honey-pot,

-----Guy Fawkes, Guy!

Cross latch, cross latch,

-----Sit and spin the fire;

When the pie was open’d,

-----The bird was on the brier!

A snark version of this poem can be found here.


A Topsy-Turvy Project: How to Make an Ice-cream Cone Buckyball

alyceobvious says,

I make these Buckminster Fuller-inspired buckyballs from ice-cream cones, then deploy them in unexpected locations as a kind of biodegradable graffiti. This is a how-to video with original guitar composition by Julian Mock

(Please see or iTunes for more info).

More odd works of ephemera at



Friday, September 12, 2008

Classic Poetry: Wasn't That a Mighty Storm? (Folk Song, Eric von Schmidt, 1931 -2007)


"Wasn't That a Mighty Storm?" Performed by D. E. Mainer



(This poem refers to the category 4 hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900)

Wasn't that a mighty storm
Wasn't that a mighty storm in the morning, well
Wasn't that a mighty storm That blew all the people all away

Path of the 1900 Category 4 Hurricane that Smashed into Galveston.

You know the year of 1900
Children, many years ago
Death came howling on the ocean
Death calls, you got to go
Now Galveston had a seawall
To keep the water down, and a
High tide from the ocean
Spread the water over the town


You know the trumpets give them warning
You'd better leave this place
Now, no one thought of leaving
'til death stared them in the face
And the trains they all were loaded
The people were all leaving town
The trestle gave way to the water
And the trains they went on down


Rain it was a' falling
Thunder began to roll
Lightning flashed like hell fire
The wind began to blow
Death the cruel master
When the wind began to blow
Rode in on a team of horses
T cried, "Death, won't you let me go."


Hey, now trees fell on the island
And the houses give away
Some they strained and drowned
Some died in most every way
And the sea began to rolling
And the ships they could not stand
And I heard a captain crying
"God save a drowning man."


Death your hands are clammy
You got them on my knee
You come and took my mother
Won't you come back after me
And the flood it took my neighbor
Took my brother too
I thought I heard my father calling
And I watched my mother go


You know the year of 1900
Children, many years ago
Death came howling on the ocean
Death calls, you got to go

(Chorus 2X)


Galveston Hurricane of 1900 Destroys a Catholic Orphanage, Only 3 Survivors



Classic Poetry: The Wind In A Frolic (William Howitt, 1792 - 1879)

William Howitt, 18 December 1792 – 3 March 1879) author from Heanor Derbyshire

The wind one morning sprang up from sleep,
Saying, “Now for a frolic! now for a leap!
Now for a madcap, galloping chase!
I’ll make a commotion in every place!”
So it swept with a bustle right through a great town,
Creaking the signs, and scattering down
The shutters, and whisking, with merciless squalls,
Old women’s bonnets and gingerbread stalls.
There never was heard a much lustier shout
As the apples and oranges tumbled about;
And urchins, that stand with their thievish eyes
Forever on watch, ran off each with a prize.

Hurricane Ike, NASA, September 9, 2008

Then away to the fields it went blustering and humming,
And the cattle all wondered whatever was coming.
It plucked by their tails the grave matronly cows,
And tossed the colts’ manes all about their brows,
Till offended at such a familiar salute,
They all turned their backs and stood silently mute.


Dire warnings about Hurricane Ike (9/11)


So on it went, capering and playing its pranks;
Whistling with reeds on the broad river banks;
Puffing the birds, as they sat on a spray,
Or the travelers grave on the king’s highway.
It was not too nice to bustle the bags
Of the beggar, and flutter his dirty rags.
’Twas so bold that it feared not to play its joke
With the doctor’s wig, and the gentleman’s cloak.
Through the forest it roared, and cried gayly, “Now,
You sturdy old oaks, I’ll make you bow!”
And it made them bow without more ado,
Or it cracked their great branches through and through.

Then it rushed like a monster o’er cottage and farm,
Striking their inmates with sudden alarm;
And they ran out like bees in a midsummer swarm.
There were dames with kerchiefs tied over their caps,
To see if their poultry were free from mishaps.
The turkeys they gobbled, the geese screamed aloud,
And the hens crept to roost in a terrified crowd;
There was rearing of ladders, and logs laying on,
Where the thatch from the roof threatened soon to be gone.
But the wind had passed on, and had met in a lane
With a schoolboy, who panted and struggled in vain,
For it tossed him, and twirled him, then passed, and he stood
With his hat in a pool and his shoe in the mud.

For all our friends who have faced the ire of Hurricane Ike: be well.

Hurricane Ike on September 12, 2008, Photo Courtesy of NASA


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Classic Poetry: A Hunting We Will Go (Anonymous, Traditional Folksong/Poem)


The Magic of Living with Wolves



A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
We'll catch a fox and put him in a box
And then we'll let him go

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
We'll catch a fish and put him on a dish
And then we'll let him go

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
We'll catch a bear and cut his hair
And then we'll let him go

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
We'll catch a pig and dance a little jig
And then we'll let him go

A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
Heigh ho, the dairy-o, a hunting we will go
A hunting we will go, a hunting we will go
We'll catch a giraffe and make him laugh
And then we'll let him go


A snark version of this poem can be found here.


A Man Among Wolves Trailer



Sunday, September 7, 2008

Classic Poetry--Solomon Grundy (Anonymous Nursery Rhyme)



Solomon Grundy,

Born on a Monday,

Christened on Tuesday,

Married on Wednesday,

Took ill on Thursday,

Grew worse on Friday,

Died on Saturday,

Buried on Sunday.

That was the end of

Solomon Grundy.


Solomon Grundy Animation



Classic Poetry: Who Has Seen the Wind? (Christina Rossetti, 1830 - 1894)

Christina Rossetti

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you:

But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing through.


The trees bow down their heads to Gustav



Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I:

But when the trees bow down their heads

The wind is passing by.


Fictional Representation of Ike



For those who have suffered through Katrina, Rita, Wilma, Fay, Gustav, Hanna, Ike, and any other hurricanes.



Saturday, September 6, 2008

Classic Poetry: John Gilpin (William Cowper, 1731-1800)

William Cowper (1731-1800); frontispiece in H.S. Milford, ed., The Complete Poetical Works of William Cowper, London: Oxford University Press, 1913. Described as being "From the picture in the National Portrait Gallery ascribed to George Romney."

John Gilpin was a citizen
-----Of credit and renown,
A train-band captain eke was he
-----Of famous London town.

John Gilpin's spouse said to her dear:
-----"Though wedded we have been
These twice ten tedious years, yet we
-----No holiday have seen.

The statue of John Gilpin's bell statue at Fore Street in Edmonton, London (Photo by "Northmepit"--released into the public domain)

"To-morrow is our wedding-day,
-----And we will then repair
Unto the Bell at Edmonton
-----All in a chaise and pair.

"My sister, and my sister's child,
-----Myself, and children three,
Will fill the chaise; so you must ride
-----On horseback after we."

He soon replied, "I do admire
-----Of womankind but one,
And you are she, my dearest dear,
-----Therefore it shall be done.

"I am a linendraper bold,
-----As all the world doth know,
And my good friend the calendrer
-----Will lend his horse to go."

Quoth Mrs. Gilpin, "That's well said;
-----And for that wine is dear,
We will be furnish'd with our own,
-----Which is both bright and clear."

John Gilpin kiss'd his loving wife;
-----O'erjoy'd was he to find,
That, though on pleasure she was bent,
-----She had a frugal mind.

The morning came, the chaise was brought,
-----But yet was not allow'd
To drive up to the door, lest all
-----Should say that she was proud.

So three doors off, the chaise was stay'd,
-----Where they did all get in;
Six precious souls, and all agog
-----To dash through thick and thin.

Smack went the whip, round went the wheels,
-----Were never folk so glad,
The stones did rattle underneath,
-----As if Cheapside were mad.

John Gilpin at his horse's side
-----Seized fast the flowing mane,
And up he got, in haste to ride,
-----But soon came down again;

For saddle-tree scarce reach'd had he,
-----His journey to begin,
When, turning round his head, he saw
-----Three customers come in.

So down he came; for loss of time,
-----Although it grieved him sore,
Yet loss of pence, full well he knew,
-----Would trouble him much more.

'Twas long before the customers
-----Were suited to their mind,
When Betty screaming came down stairs,
-----"The wine is left behind!"

"Good lack!" quoth he, "Yet bring it me,
-----My leathern belt likewise,
In which I bear my trusty sword
-----When I do exercise."

Now mistress Gilpin (careful soul!)
-----Had two stone bottles found,
To hold the liquor that she loved,
-----And keep it safe and sound.

Each bottle had a curling ear,
-----Through which the belt he drew,
And hung a bottle on each side,
-----To make his balance true.

Then over all, that he might be
-----Equipp'd from top to toe,
His long red cloak, well brush'd and neat,
-----He manfully did throw.

Now see him mounted once again
-----Upon his nimble steed,
Full slowly pacing o'er the stones,
-----With caution and good heed.

But finding soon a smoother road
-----Beneath his well-shod feet,
The snorting beast began to trot,
-----Which gall'd him in his seat.

So, "Fair and softly," John he cried,
-----But John he cried in vain;
That trot became a gallop soon,
-----In spite of curb and rein.

So stooping down, as needs he must
-----Who cannot sit upright,
He grasp'd the mane with both his hands,
-----And eke with all his might.

His horse, who never in that sort
-----Had handled been before,
What thing upon his back had got
-----Did wonder more and more.

Away went Gilpin, neck or nought;
-----Away went hat and wig;
He little dreamt, when he set out,
-----Of running such a rig.

The wind did blow, the cloak did fly,
-----Like streamer long and gay,
Till, loop and button failing both,
-----At last it flew away.

Then might all people well discern
-----The bottles he had slung;
A bottle swinging at each side,
-----As hath been said or sung.

The dogs did bark, the children scream'd,
-----Up flew the windows all;
And every soul cried out, "Well done!"
-----As loud as he could bawl.

Away went Gilpin - who but he?
-----His fame soon spread around,
"He carries weight! he rides a race!
-----Tis for a thousand pound!"

And still, as fast as he drew near,
-----'Twas wonderful to view,
How in a trice the turnpike men
-----Their gates wide open threw.

And now, as he went bowing down
-----His reeking head full low,
The bottles twain behind his back
-----Were shatter'd at a blow.

Down ran the wine into the road,
-----Most piteous to be seen,
Which made his horse's flanks to smoke,
-----As they had basted been.

But still he seem'd to carry weight,
-----With leathern girdle braced;
For all might see the bottlenecks
-----Still dangling at his waist.

Thus all through merry Islington
-----These gambols he did play,
Until he came unto the Wash
-----Of Edmonton so gay;

And there he threw the wash about
-----On both sides of the way,
Just like unto a trundling mop,
-----Or a wild goose at play.

At Edmonton, his loving wife
-----From the balcony spied
Her tender husband, wondering much
-----To see how he did ride.

"Stop, stop, John Gilpin! - Here's the house!"
-----They all at once did cry;
"The dinner waits, and we are tired":
-----Said Gilpin, "So am I!"

But yet his horse was not a whit
-----Inclined to tarry there;
For why?  his owner had a house
-----Full ten miles off, at Ware.

So like arrow swift he flew,
-----Shot by an archer strong?
So did he fly--which brings me to
-----The middle of my song.

Away went Gilpin out of breath,
-----And sore against his will,
Till at his friend the calendrer's
-----His horse at last stood still.

The Calend'rer, amazed to see
-----His neighbour in such trim,
Laid down his pipe, flew to the gate,
-----And thus accosted him:

"What news? what news? your tidings tell;
-----Tell me you must and shall -
Say why bareheaded you are come,
-----Or why you come at all?"

Now Gilpin had a pleasant wit,
-----And loved a timely joke!
And thus unto the calendrer
-----In merry guise he spoke:

"I came, because your horse would come,
-----And, if I well forebode,
My hat and wig will soon be here,
-----They are upon the road."

The Calendrer, right glad to find
-----His friend in merry pin,
Return'd him not a single word,
-----But to the house went in;

Whence straight he came with hat and wig;
-----A wig that flow'd behind,
A hat not much the worse for wear,
-----Each comely in its kind.

He held them up, and in his turn
-----Thus show'd his ready wit:
"My head is twice as big as yours,
-----They therefore needs must fit.

"But let me scrape the dirt away
-----That hangs upon your face;
And stop and eat, for well you may
-----Be in a hungry case."

Said John, "It is my wedding-day,
-----And all the world would stare,
If wife should dine at Edmonton,
-----And I should dine at Ware."

So turning to his horse, he said,
-----"I am in haste to dine;
'Twas for your pleasure you came here,
-----You shall go back for mine."

Ah, luckless speech, and bootless boast!
-----For which he paid full dear;
For, while he spake, a braying ass
-----Did sing most loud and clear;

Whereat his horse did snort, as he
-----Had heard a lion roar,
And gallop'd off with all his might,
-----As he had done before.

Away went Gilpin, and away
-----Went Gilpin's hat and wig:
He lost them sooner than at first,
-----For why? -- they were too big.

Now mistress Gilpin, when she saw
-----Her husband posting down
Into the country far away,
-----She pull'd out half-a-crown;

And thus unto the youth she said,
-----That drove them to the Bell,
"This shall be yours, when you bring back
-----My husband safe and well."

The youth did ride, and soon did meet
-----John coming back amain;
Whom in a trice he tried to stop,
-----By catching at his rein;

But not performing what he meant,
-----And gladly would have done,
The frighten'd steed he frighten'd more,
-----And made him faster run.

Away went Gilpin, and away
-----Went postboy at his heels,
The postboy's horse right glad to miss
-----The lumbering of the wheels.

Six gentlemen upon the road
-----Thus seeing Gilpin fly,
With postboy scampering in the rear,
-----They raised the hue and cry:

"Stop thief! stop thief! -- a highwayman!"
-----Not one of them was mute;
And all and each that pass'd that way
-----Did join in the pursuit.

And now the turnpike gates again
-----Flew open in short space;
The toll-men thinking as before,
-----That Gilpin rode a race.

And so he did, and won it too!
-----For he got first to town;
Nor stopp'd till where he had got up
-----He did again get down.

-- Now let us sing, Long live the King,
-----And Gilpin, long live he;
And when he next doth ride abroad,
-----May I be there to see!



Friday, September 5, 2008

Classic Poetry: "Eel-Grass" (Edna St. Vincent Millay, 1892-1950)

Edna St. Vincent Millay, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1933.

No matter what I say,

All that I really love

Is the rain that flattens on the bay,

And the eel-grass in the cove;




Millay, 1914, a publicity photograph (per Daniel Mark Epstein, What Lips My Lips Have Kissed: The Loves and Love Poems of Edna St. Vincent Millay, p. 135), taken 1914.




The jingle-shells that lie and bleach

At the tide-line, and the trace

Of higher tides along the beach:

Nothing in this place.


All About Eel-grass Restoration

SaveBayNarragansett says,

Save The Bay - Narragansett Bay's Wenley Ferguson explains how we restore eelgrass and why it is so important. Recorded at King's Beach, Newport Rhode Island, May 29, 2008.



Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: Table of Contents, Links to Chapters, and Synopsis (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)

1898 Cover of Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Chapter I: Down the Rabbit Hole

Alice is bored of sitting on the riverbank with her sister, who is reading a book. Suddenly she sees a white rabbit run past wearing a coat and carrying a watch, lamenting running late. She follows it down a rabbit hole and falls very slowly down a tunnel lined with curious objects. She lands in a long hallway lined with locked doors. She finds a little key sitting on a glass table. Behind a curtain on the wall she finds a tiny door that opens with the key and leads into a beautiful garden. The door however is too small for Alice to fit through. Looking back at the table she sees a bottle labelled "DRINK ME" that was not there before. She drinks and it causes her to shrink to a size small enough to fit through the door. Unfortunately Alice has left the key high above on the table. She finds a box under the table in which there is a cake with the words "EAT ME" on it. She eats it, thinking that if it makes her smaller she can creep under the door and if it makes her larger she can get the key.

Chapter II: The Pool of Tears

The cake makes Alice grow so tall that her head hits the ceiling. Getting frustrated, she cries. Her tears flood the hallway. The White Rabbit runs by and is so frightened by Alice that he drops the gloves and fan he is holding. She fans herself with the fan and starts to wonder if she is still the same person that she was before. The fan causes her to shrink again. Alice swims through her own tears and meets a mouse, who is swimming as well. She tries to make small talk with him but all she can think of talking about is her cat, which offends the mouse. The pool becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away. They all swim to shore.

Chapter III: A Caucus Race and a Long Tale

The first question is how to get dry again. The mouse gives them a very dry lecture on William the Conqueror. A Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race. The Dodo marks out a race course in a sort of circle and the racers begin running whenever they feel like it, and everyone wins. Alice reaches into her pocket and finds a box of comfits which she distributes among the winners. The animals then beg the mouse to tell them something more and he recites a tale about a mouse and Fury. Alice mistakes his tale for his tail. This insults him and he leaves. She starts talking about her cat again, which frightens the rest of the animals away.

Chapter IV: The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill

The White Rabbit appears again and orders Alice to go back to his house and fetch him his gloves and fan. Inside, she finds another bottle and drinks from it. Alice grows so large that she has to stick one arm out the window and her foot up the chimney. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, a lizard named Bill, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. As Bill slides down the chimney Alice kicks him out with her foot, shooting him up into the sky. Outside Alice hears the voices of animals that have gathered to gawk at her giant arm. The crowd hurls pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes that shrink Alice down again. She runs into the woods, where she decides that she must get back to her right size and she must find the lovely garden. Suddenly Alice is confronted by a giant puppy. She picks up a stick and teases him with it until he is tired and she can run away. She comes upon a mushroom and sitting on it is a caterpillar smoking a hookah.

Chapter V: Advice from a Caterpillar

The Caterpillar questions Alice and she admits to her current identity crisis. He asks her to recite "You Are Old, Father William". She does so, but it comes out with many errors. She insults him by saying that three inches is a wretched height to be (he himself is three inches tall). The Caterpillar crawls away into the grass, telling Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller and the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while another causes her neck to grow high into the trees, where a pigeon mistakes her for a serpent. With some effort, Alice brings herself back to her usual height. She stumbles upon a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height.

Chapter VI: Pig and Pepper

A Fish-Footman has an invitation for the Duchess of the house, which he delivers to a Frog-Footman. Alice observes this transaction and, after a perplexing conversation with the frog, welcomes herself into the house. The Duchess' Cook is throwing dishes and making a soup which has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess and her baby (but not the cook or her grinning Cheshire-Cat) to sneeze violently. The Duchess tosses her baby up and down while reciting the poem "Speak roughly to your little boy." The Duchess gives Alice the baby while she leaves to go play croquet with the Queen. To Alice's surprise, the baby later turns into a pig, so she sets it free in the woods. The Cheshire-Cat appears in a tree, directing her to the March Hare's house. He disappears but his grin remains behind to float on its own in the air.

Chapter VII: A Mad Tea Party

Alice becomes a guest at a mad tea party, along with the Hatter, the March Hare, and the Dormouse. In the course of the party, Alice reveals that the date is May 4 (which happens to be the birthday of her presumed real-life counterpart, Alice Pleasance Liddell). The other characters give Alice many riddles and stories, until she becomes so insulted that she leaves, claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to. Alice comes upon a door in a tree, and enters it, and finds herself back in the long hallway. She opens the door, eats part of her mushroom, and shrinks so she can get into the beautiful garden.

Chapter VIII: The Queen's Croquet Ground

Now in the beautiful garden, she comes upon three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because the Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice meets the violent Queen and pacifying King of Hearts. The Queen orders "Off with their heads!" when she sees the work of the gardeners. A game of croquet begins, with flamingos as the mallets and hedgehogs as the balls. The Queen condemns more people to death, and Alice once again meets the Cheshire Cat. The Queen of Hearts then debates chopping off the Cat's head, even though that is all there is of him. Alice suggests talking to the Duchess, so the Queen orders the Duchess out of prison.

Chapter IX: The Mock Turtle's story

The Duchess is brought to the croquet ground. She is now less angry and is always trying to find morals in things. The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle. The Mock Turtle is very sad, even though he has no sorrow. He tries to tell his story about how he used to be a real turtle in school, which The Gryphon interrupts so they can play a game.

Chapter X: The Lobster Quadrille

The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, while Alice recites (rather incorrectly) "Tis the Voice of the Lobster." The Mock Turtle sings them "Beautiful Soup" during which the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial.

Chapter XI: Who Stole the Tarts?

At the trial, the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the tarts. The jury box is made up of twelve animals, including Bill the Lizard, and the judge is the King of Hearts. The first witness is the Mad Hatter, who doesn't help the case at all, followed by the Duchess's Cook. During the proceedings, Alice finds that she is steadily growing larger when she is suddenly called as a witness herself.

Chapter XII: Alice's Evidence

Alice accidentally knocks over the jury box as she stands in alarm. She argues with the King and Queen of Hearts over the ridiculous proceedings, eventually refusing to hold her tongue. The Queen shouts her familiar "Off with her head!" but Alice is unafraid, calling them out as just a pack of cards. Alice's sister wakes her up for tea, brushing what turns out to be some leaves and not a shower of playing cards from Alice's face. Alice leaves her sister on the bank to imagine all the curious happenings for herself.

About Alice Liddell Pleasance: Lewis Carroll's Real Alice


Synopsis from Wikipedia


Thursday, September 4, 2008

Alice Pleasance Liddell (1852-1934): The Real Alice in Wonderland and "A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky" (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)

1862 Photograph of seven-year-old Alice Pleasance Liddell (by Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll)

Lewis Carroll (real name Charles Dodgson), author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, created Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to entertain Alice and her sisters on a boat ride down the Thames. According to Wikipedia:

Alice Pleasance Liddell with her sisters (circa 1859)

On July 4, 1862, in a rowing boat travelling on The Isis from Folly Bridge, Oxford to Godstow for a picnic outing, 10-year-old Alice asked Charles Dodgson (More commonly known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and her sisters, Edith (age 8) and Lorina (age 13), with a story. As the Reverend Robinson Duckworth rowed the boat, Dodgson regaled the girls with fantastic stories of a girl, named Alice, and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole. The story was not unlike those Dodgson had spun for the sisters before, but this time Alice asked Mr. Dodgson to write it down for her. He promised to do so but did not get around to the task for some months. He eventually presented Alice with the manuscript of Alice's Adventures Under Ground in November 1864.

In the meantime, Dodgson had decided to rewrite the story as a possible commercial venture. Probably with a view to canvassing his opinion, Dodgson sent the manuscript of Under Ground to a friend, the author George MacDonald, in the spring of 1863 [1]. The MacDonald children read the story and loved it, and this response probably persuaded Dodgson to seek a publisher. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, with illustrations by John Tenniel, was published in 1865, under the pen name Lewis Carroll. A second "Alice" book, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, followed in 1871. In 1886, a facsimile of Alice's Adventures Under Ground, the original manuscript that Dodgson had given Alice, was published.
Carroll wrote an acrostic poem, which appeared in the back of Through the Looking-Glass, about Alice and that fateful trip down the Thames. The first letter in each line spells out "Alice Pleasance Liddell":
A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.


Alice Pleasance Liddell as a young woman (Photo by Julia Margaret Cameron)

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?

Alice Pleasance Liddell Hargreaves in her older years.

Dreamchild (1985 film)

brechtbug says,

A scene from the Dennis Potter written 1985 film "Dreamchild" based on the book "Alice at 80". Alice Liddell Hargreaves is 80 years old and having flashbacks/hallucinations of her time spent with Reverend Charles Dodgson. The Mad Hatter & March Hare (Jim Henson puppets) are chatting with Coral Browne as elderly Alice & Amelia Shankley young Alice. Elements of "Alice in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass" are combined in this Lewis Carroll inspired film.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Chapter XII--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "Alice's Evidence" (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)


'Here!' cried Alice, quite forgetting in the flurry of the moment how large she had grown in the last few minutes, and she jumped up in such a hurry that she tipped over the jury-box with the edge of her skirt, upsetting all the jurymen on to the heads of the crowd below, and there they lay sprawling about, reminding her very much of a globe of goldfish she had accidentally upset the week before.

'Oh, I beg your pardon!' she exclaimed in a tone of great dismay, and began picking them up again as quickly as she could, for the accident of the goldfish kept running in her head, and she had a vague sort of idea that they must be collected at once and put back into the jury-box, or they would die.

'The trial cannot proceed,' said the King in a very grave voice, 'until all the jurymen are back in their proper places-- all,' he repeated with great emphasis, looking hard at Alice as he said do.

Alice looked at the jury-box, and saw that, in her haste, she had put the Lizard in head downwards, and the poor little thing was waving its tail about in a melancholy way, being quite unable to move. She soon got it out again, and put it right; 'not that it signifies much,' she said to herself; 'I should think it would be quite as much use in the trial one way up as the other.'

As soon as the jury had a little recovered from the shock of being upset, and their slates and pencils had been found and handed back to them, they set to work very diligently to write out a history of the accident, all except the Lizard, who seemed too much overcome to do anything but sit with its mouth open, gazing up into the roof of the court.

'What do you know about this business?' the King said to Alice.

'Nothing,' said Alice.

'Nothing whatever?' persisted the King.

'Nothing whatever,' said Alice.

'That's very important,' the King said, turning to the jury. They were just beginning to write this down on their slates, when the White Rabbit interrupted: 'Unimportant, your Majesty means, of course,' he said in a very respectful tone, but frowning and making faces at him as he spoke.

'Unimportant, of course, I meant,' the King hastily said, and went on to himself in an undertone, 'important--unimportant-- unimportant--important--' as if he were trying which word sounded best.

Some of the jury wrote it down 'important,' and some 'unimportant.' Alice could see this, as she was near enough to look over their slates; 'but it doesn't matter a bit,' she thought to herself.

At this moment the King, who had been for some time busily writing in his note-book, cackled out 'Silence!' and read out from his book, 'Rule Forty-two. All persons more than a mile hight to leave the court.'

Everybody looked at Alice.

'I'm not a mile high,' said Alice.

'You are,' said the King.

'Nearly two miles high,' added the Queen.

'Well, I shan't go, at any rate,' said Alice: 'besides, that's not a regular rule: you invented it just now.'

'It's the oldest rule in the book,' said the King.

'Then it ought to be Number One,' said Alice.

The King turned pale, and shut his note-book hastily. 'Consider your verdict,' he said to the jury, in a low, trembling voice.

'There's more evidence to come yet, please your Majesty,' said the White Rabbit, jumping up in a great hurry; 'this paper has just been picked up.'

'What's in it?' said the Queen.

'I haven't opened it yet,' said the White Rabbit, 'but it seems to be a letter, written by the prisoner to--to somebody.'

'It must have been that,' said the King, 'unless it was written to nobody, which isn't usual, you know.'

'Who is it directed to?' said one of the jurymen.

'It isn't directed at all,' said the White Rabbit; 'in fact, there's nothing written on the outside.' He unfolded the paper as he spoke, and added 'It isn't a letter, after all: it's a set of verses.'

'Are they in the prisoner's handwriting?' asked another of they jurymen.

'No, they're not,' said the White Rabbit, 'and that's the queerest thing about it.' (The jury all looked puzzled.)

'He must have imitated somebody else's hand,' said the King. (The jury all brightened up again.)

'Please your Majesty,' said the Knave, 'I didn't write it, and they can't prove I did: there's no name signed at the end.'

'If you didn't sign it,' said the King, 'that only makes the matter worse. You must have meant some mischief, or else you'd have signed your name like an honest man.'

There was a general clapping of hands at this: it was the first really clever thing the King had said that day.

'That proves his guilt,' said the Queen.

'It proves nothing of the sort!' said Alice. 'Why, you don't even know what they're about!'

'Read them,' said the King.

The White Rabbit put on his spectacles. 'Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?' he asked.

'Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, 'and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

These were the verses the White Rabbit read:--

'They told me you had been to her, And mentioned me to him: She gave me a good character, But said I could not swim.

He sent them word I had not gone (We know it to be true): If she should push the matter on, What would become of you?

I gave her one, they gave him two, You gave us three or more; They all returned from him to you, Though they were mine before.

If I or she should chance to be Involved in this affair, He trusts to you to set them free, Exactly as we were.

My notion was that you had been (Before she had this fit) An obstacle that came between Him, and ourselves, and it.

Don't let him know she liked them best, For this must ever be A secret, kept from all the rest, Between yourself and me.'

'That's the most important piece of evidence we've heard yet,' said the King, rubbing his hands; 'so now let the jury--'

'If any one of them can explain it,' said Alice, (she had grown so large in the last few minutes that she wasn't a bit afraid of interrupting him,) 'I'll give him sixpence. _I_ don't believe there's an atom of meaning in it.'

The jury all wrote down on their slates, 'She doesn't believe there's an atom of meaning in it,' but none of them attempted to explain the paper.

'If there's no meaning in it,' said the King, 'that saves a world of trouble, you know, as we needn't try to find any. And yet I don't know,' he went on, spreading out the verses on his knee, and looking at them with one eye; 'I seem to see some meaning in them, after all. "-said I could not swim--" you can't swim, can you?' he added, turning to the Knave.

The Knave shook his head sadly. 'Do I look like it?' he said. (Which he certainly did not, being made entirely of cardboard.)

'All right, so far,' said the King, and he went on muttering over the verses to himself: '"We know it to be true--" that's the jury, of course-- "I gave her one, they gave him two--" why, that must be what he did with the tarts, you know--'

'But, it goes on "they all returned from him to you,"' said Alice.

'Why, there they are!' said the King triumphantly, pointing to the tarts on the table. 'Nothing can be clearer than that. Then again--"before she had this fit--" you never had fits, my dear, I think?' he said to the Queen.

'Never!' said the Queen furiously, throwing an inkstand at the Lizard as she spoke. (The unfortunate little Bill had left off writing on his slate with one finger, as he found it made no mark; but he now hastily began again, using the ink, that was trickling down his face, as long as it lasted.)

'Then the words don't fit you,' said the King, looking round the court with a smile. There was a dead silence.

'It's a pun!' the King added in an offended tone, and everybody laughed, 'Let the jury consider their verdict,' the King said, for about the twentieth time that day.

'No, no!' said the Queen. 'Sentence first--verdict afterwards.'

'Stuff and nonsense!' said Alice loudly. 'The idea of having the sentence first!'

'Hold your tongue!' said the Queen, turning purple.

'I won't!' said Alice.

'Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'

At this the whole pack rose up into the air, and came flying down upon her: she gave a little scream, half of fright and half of anger, and tried to beat them off, and found herself lying on the bank, with her head in the lap of her sister, who was gently brushing away some dead leaves that had fluttered down from the trees upon her face.

'Wake up, Alice dear!' said her sister; 'Why, what a long sleep you've had!'

'Oh, I've had such a curious dream!' said Alice, and she told her sister, as well as she could remember them, all these strange Adventures of hers that you have just been reading about; and when she had finished, her sister kissed her, and said, 'It was a curious dream, dear, certainly: but now run in to your tea; it's getting late.' So Alice got up and ran off, thinking while she ran, as well she might, what a wonderful dream it had been.

But her sister sat still just as she left her, leaning her head on her hand, watching the setting sun, and thinking of little Alice and all her wonderful Adventures, till she too began dreaming after a fashion, and this was her dream:--

First, she dreamed of little Alice herself, and once again the tiny hands were clasped upon her knee, and the bright eager eyes were looking up into hers--she could hear the very tones of her voice, and see that queer little toss of her head to keep back the wandering hair that would always get into her eyes--and still as she listened, or seemed to listen, the whole place around her became alive the strange creatures of her little sister's dream.

The long grass rustled at her feet as the White Rabbit hurried by--the frightened Mouse splashed his way through the neighbouring pool--she could hear the rattle of the teacups as the March Hare and his friends shared their never-ending meal, and the shrill voice of the Queen ordering off her unfortunate guests to execution--once more the pig-baby was sneezing on the Duchess's knee, while plates and dishes crashed around it--once more the shriek of the Gryphon, the squeaking of the Lizard's slate-pencil, and the choking of the suppressed guinea-pigs, filled the air, mixed up with the distant sobs of the miserable Mock Turtle.

So she sat on, with closed eyes, and half believed herself in Wonderland, though she knew she had but to open them again, and all would change to dull reality--the grass would be only rustling in the wind, and the pool rippling to the waving of the reeds--the rattling teacups would change to tinkling sheep-bells, and the Queen's shrill cries to the voice of the shepherd boy--and the sneeze of the baby, the shriek of the Gryphon, and all the other queer noises, would change (she knew) to the confused clamour of the busy farm-yard--while the lowing of the cattle in the distance would take the place of the Mock Turtle's heavy sobs.

Lastly, she pictured to herself how this same little sister of hers would, in the after-time, be herself a grown woman; and how she would keep, through all her riper years, the simple and loving heart of her childhood: and how she would gather about her other little children, and make their eyes bright and eager with many a strange tale, perhaps even with the dream of Wonderland of long ago: and how she would feel with all their simple sorrows, and find a pleasure in all their simple joys, remembering her own child-life, and the happy summer days.


Illustration: John Tenniel, circa 1865

The King of Hearts.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, originally published 4 July 1865

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Classic Poetry: The Fairies (William Allingham, 1824? - 1889)--Updated Version



Up the airy mountain
---Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
---For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
---Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
---And white owl's feather.
Down along the rocky shore
---Some make their home,
They live on crispy pancakes
---Of yellow tide-foam;
Some in the reeds
---Of the black mountain-lake,
With frogs for their watch-dogs,
---All night awake.

"He's nigh lost his wits."

High on the hill-top
---The old King sits;
He is now so old and gray
---He's nigh lost his wits.
With a bridge of white mist
---Columbkill he crosses,
On his stately journeys
---From Slieveleague to Rosses;
Or going up with music,
---On cold starry nights,
To sup with the Queen,
---Of the gay Northern Lights.

"Her friends were all gone./They took her lightly back."

They stole little Bridget
---For seven years long;
When she came down again
---Her friends were all gone.
They took her lightly back
---Between the night and morrow;
They thought she was fast asleep,
---But she was dead with sorrow.
They have kept her ever since
---Deep within the lake,
On a bed of flag leaves,
---Watching till she wake.

"He shall find the thornies set/In his bed at night."

By the craggy hill-side,
---Through the mosses bare,
They have planted thorn trees
---For pleasure here and there.
Is any man so daring
---As dig them up in spite?
He shall find the thornies set
---In his bed at night.

"We daren't go a-hunting."

Up the airy mountain
---Down the rushy glen,
We daren't go a-hunting,
---For fear of little men;
Wee folk, good folk,
---Trooping all together;
Green jacket, red cap,
---And white owl's feather.

Spore Demon Fairy



Monday, September 1, 2008

Chapter XI--Alice's Adventures in Wonderland: "Who Stole the Tarts?" (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)


The Trial: Who Stole the Tarts?

jdewbre says:
The trial scene the 1983 Great Performances version of "Alice In Wonderland," directed by Kirk Browning and starring Kate Burton as Alice. It's remarkably faithful to the book. My all-time favorite line is Austin Pendleton screaming "HE STOLE THOSE TARTS!"

The King and Queen of Hearts were seated on their throne when they arrived, with a great crowd assembled about them--all sorts of little birds and beasts, as well as the whole pack of cards: the Knave was standing before them, in chains, with a soldier on each side to guard him; and near the King was the White Rabbit, with a trumpet in one hand, and a scroll of parchment in the other. In the very middle of the court was a table, with a large dish of tarts upon it: they looked so good, that it made Alice quite hungry to look at them--'I wish they'd get the trial done,' she thought, 'and hand round the refreshments!' But there seemed to be no chance of this, so she began looking at everything about her, to pass away the time.

Alice had never been in a court of justice before, but she had read about them in books, and she was quite pleased to find that she knew the name of nearly everything there. 'That's the judge,' she said to herself, 'because of his great wig.'

The judge, by the way, was the King; and as he wore his crown over the wig, (look at the frontispiece if you want to see how he did it,) he did not look at all comfortable, and it was certainly not becoming.

'And that's the jury-box,' thought Alice, 'and those twelve creatures,' (she was obliged to say 'creatures,' you see, because some of them were animals, and some were birds,) 'I suppose they are the jurors.' She said this last word two or three times over to herself, being rather proud of it: for she thought, and rightly too, that very few little girls of her age knew the meaning of it at all. However, 'jury-men' would have done just as well.

The twelve jurors were all writing very busily on slates. 'What are they doing?' Alice whispered to the Gryphon. 'They can't have anything to put down yet, before the trial's begun.'

'They're putting down their names,' the Gryphon whispered in reply, 'for fear they should forget them before the end of the trial.'

'Stupid things!' Alice began in a loud, indignant voice, but she stopped hastily, for the White Rabbit cried out, 'Silence in the court!' and the King put on his spectacles and looked anxiously round, to make out who was talking.

Alice could see, as well as if she were looking over their shoulders, that all the jurors were writing down 'stupid things!' on their slates, and she could even make out that one of them didn't know how to spell 'stupid,' and that he had to ask his neighbour to tell him. 'A nice muddle their slates'll be in before the trial's over!' thought Alice.

One of the jurors had a pencil that squeaked. This of course, Alice could not stand, and she went round the court and got behind him, and very soon found an opportunity of taking it away. She did it so quickly that the poor little juror (it was Bill, the Lizard) could not make out at all what had become of it; so, after hunting all about for it, he was obliged to write with one finger for the rest of the day; and this was of very little use, as it left no mark on the slate.

'Herald, read the accusation!' said the King.

On this the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and then unrolled the parchment scroll, and read as follows:--

'The Queen of Hearts, she made some tarts, All on a summer day: The Knave of Hearts, he stole those tarts, And took them quite away!'

'Consider your verdict,' the King said to the jury.

'Not yet, not yet!' the Rabbit hastily interrupted. 'There's a great deal to come before that!'

'Call the first witness,' said the King; and the White Rabbit blew three blasts on the trumpet, and called out, 'First witness!'

The first witness was the Hatter. He came in with a teacup in one hand and a piece of bread-and-butter in the other. 'I beg pardon, your Majesty,' he began, 'for bringing these in: but I hadn't quite finished my tea when I was sent for.'

'You ought to have finished,' said the King. 'When did you begin?'

The Hatter looked at the March Hare, who had followed him into the court, arm-in-arm with the Dormouse. 'Fourteenth of March, I think it was,' he said.

'Fifteenth,' said the March Hare.

'Sixteenth,' added the Dormouse.

'Write that down,' the King said to the jury, and the jury eagerly wrote down all three dates on their slates, and then added them up, and reduced the answer to shillings and pence.

'Take off your hat,' the King said to the Hatter.

'It isn't mine,' said the Hatter.

'Stolen!' the King exclaimed, turning to the jury, who instantly made a memorandum of the fact.

'I keep them to sell,' the Hatter added as an explanation; 'I've none of my own. I'm a hatter.'

Here the Queen put on her spectacles, and began staring at the Hatter, who turned pale and fidgeted.

'Give your evidence,' said the King; 'and don't be nervous, or I'll have you executed on the spot.'

This did not seem to encourage the witness at all: he kept shifting from one foot to the other, looking uneasily at the Queen, and in his confusion he bit a large piece out of his teacup instead of the bread-and-butter.

Just at this moment Alice felt a very curious sensation, which puzzled her a good deal until she made out what it was: she was beginning to grow larger again, and she thought at first she would get up and leave the court; but on second thoughts she decided to remain where she was as long as there was room for her.

'I wish you wouldn't squeeze so.' said the Dormouse, who was sitting next to her. 'I can hardly breathe.'

'I can't help it,' said Alice very meekly: 'I'm growing.'

'You've no right to grow here,' said the Dormouse.

'Don't talk nonsense,' said Alice more boldly: 'you know you're growing too.'

'Yes, but I grow at a reasonable pace,' said the Dormouse: 'not in that ridiculous fashion.' And he got up very sulkily and crossed over to the other side of the court.

All this time the Queen had never left off staring at the Hatter, and, just as the Dormouse crossed the court, she said to one of the officers of the court, 'Bring me the list of the singers in the last concert!' on which the wretched Hatter trembled so, that he shook both his shoes off.

'Give your evidence,' the King repeated angrily, 'or I'll have you executed, whether you're nervous or not.'

'I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' the Hatter began, in a trembling voice, '--and I hadn't begun my tea--not above a week or so--and what with the bread-and-butter getting so thin--and the twinkling of the tea--'

'The twinkling of the what?' said the King.

'It began with the tea,' the Hatter replied.

'Of course twinkling begins with a T!' said the King sharply. 'Do you take me for a dunce? Go on!'

'I'm a poor man,' the Hatter went on, 'and most things twinkled after that--only the March Hare said--'

'I didn't!' the March Hare interrupted in a great hurry.

'You did!' said the Hatter.

'I deny it!' said the March Hare.

'He denies it,' said the King: 'leave out that part.'

'Well, at any rate, the Dormouse said--' the Hatter went on, looking anxiously round to see if he would deny it too: but the Dormouse denied nothing, being fast asleep.

'After that,' continued the Hatter, 'I cut some more bread- and-butter--'

'But what did the Dormouse say?' one of the jury asked.

'That I can't remember,' said the Hatter.

'You must remember,' remarked the King, 'or I'll have you executed.'

The miserable Hatter dropped his teacup and bread-and-butter, and went down on one knee. 'I'm a poor man, your Majesty,' he began.

'You're a very poor speaker,' said the King.

Here one of the guinea-pigs cheered, and was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court. (As that is rather a hard word, I will just explain to you how it was done. They had a large canvas bag, which tied up at the mouth with strings: into this they slipped the guinea-pig, head first, and then sat upon it.)

'I'm glad I've seen that done,' thought Alice. 'I've so often read in the newspapers, at the end of trials, "There was some attempts at applause, which was immediately suppressed by the officers of the court," and I never understood what it meant till now.'

'If that's all you know about it, you may stand down,' continued the King.

'I can't go no lower,' said the Hatter: 'I'm on the floor, as it is.'

'Then you may sit down,' the King replied.

Here the other guinea-pig cheered, and was suppressed.

'Come, that finished the guinea-pigs!' thought Alice. 'Now we shall get on better.'

'I'd rather finish my tea,' said the Hatter, with an anxious look at the Queen, who was reading the list of singers.

'You may go,' said the King, and the Hatter hurriedly left the court, without even waiting to put his shoes on.

'--and just take his head off outside,' the Queen added to one of the officers: but the Hatter was out of sight before the officer could get to the door.

'Call the next witness!' said the King.

The next witness was the Duchess's cook. She carried the pepper-box in her hand, and Alice guessed who it was, even before she got into the court, by the way the people near the door began sneezing all at once.

'Give your evidence,' said the King.

'Shan't,' said the cook.

The King looked anxiously at the White Rabbit, who said in a low voice, 'Your Majesty must cross-examine this witness.'

'Well, if I must, I must,' the King said, with a melancholy air, and, after folding his arms and frowning at the cook till his eyes were nearly out of sight, he said in a deep voice, 'What are tarts made of?'

'Pepper, mostly,' said the cook.

'Treacle,' said a sleepy voice behind her.

'Collar that Dormouse,' the Queen shrieked out. 'Behead that Dormouse! Turn that Dormouse out of court! Suppress him! Pinch him! Off with his whiskers!'

For some minutes the whole court was in confusion, getting the Dormouse turned out, and, by the time they had settled down again, the cook had disappeared.

'Never mind!' said the King, with an air of great relief. 'Call the next witness.' And he added in an undertone to the Queen, 'Really, my dear, you must cross-examine the next witness. It quite makes my forehead ache!'

Alice watched the White Rabbit as he fumbled over the list, feeling very curious to see what the next witness would be like, '--for they haven't got much evidence yet,' she said to herself. Imagine her surprise, when the White Rabbit read out, at the top of his shrill little voice, the name 'Alice!'


Illustration: John Tenniel, circa 1865

The King and Queen of Hearts.


Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, originally published 4 July 1865

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