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The Time Has Come, the Walrus said . . .

I've got a review of one of my fave poetry books from last year up at Guys Lit Wire today. It's a review of Twelve Rounds to Glory: The Story of Muhammad Ali by Charles R. Smith, Jr., illustrated by Bryan Collier, and it includes a wee bit of my SBBT interview of Charles Smith. I hope you'll all check it out, and also check The Guys Lit Wire site in general for books for teen guys.

In my head this morning was a jumble of verses involving kings. See, I'd tried to recall my favorite bit from The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll, only the little man in the back office of my brain came back with "A Bag of Tools" by R.L. Sharpe (which may or may not still be under copyright protection). I only know bits of the Carroll poem, although I believe I'm going to try to learn it by heart. I particularly like "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." And the Sharpe poem was one of the things I found among my grandfather's papers many years ago, along with The Lion and Albert and a number of other poems, prayers, etc. So I'll share both with of the kings-related poems with you, as I may.

Looking at them and assessing the metre of both, I think it's not entirely crazy that the little man in the file room mucked up. See, Sharpe's poem begins "Isn't it strange that princes and kings and clowns that caper in sawdust rings . . . " The rest can be read online at a number of places, including a place called Poetry in a Cup.

And here is The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Carroll, from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There.

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.



And in this instance, the Walrus was not Paul. Koo-koo-ka-choo.




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Comments

( 13 comments — Leave a comment )
wordsrmylife
Jul. 8th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the guy's lit mention! I'm on an teen award committee and one of the things we're always looking to include on our list is books with guy appeal. This will be a big help!

Koo-koo-koo-ka-choo back at ya. This poem always does make me think of the Liverpudlians.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 9th, 2008 12:21 am (UTC)
Guy's Lit Wire is an excellent resource. There are links there, too, to other sources. There's Guys Read, organized by the Ambassador himself, Jon Scieszka. And there's a blog run by actual teen boys who do book reviews called Boys Blogging Books (it's goadingthepen's kids and some others, I believe.) And probably some more.
writerjenn
Jul. 9th, 2008 12:02 am (UTC)
I've always loved this poem--even though it is rather tragic!

Whenever we get a big snowstorm, I recite the "thick and fast" couplet. I know it refers to oysters, but it works for snowflakes too.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 9th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
Those poor oysters. I so love the bit that I quoted, though. I really do believe I need to memorize the whole poem, however.
slatts
Jul. 9th, 2008 01:37 am (UTC)
the Walrus was not Paul. Koo-koo-ka-choo....
And to that George the Oyster replied:
You know that what you eat you are,
But what is sweet now, turns so sour--
We all know Obla-Di-Bla-Da
But can you show me, where you are?..
kellyrfineman
Jul. 9th, 2008 01:09 pm (UTC)
Re: the Walrus was not Paul. Koo-koo-ka-choo....
I knew the Beatles reference would appeal to you. Didn't know the reply, however. Any progress on your Beatles-related book?

Edited at 2008-07-09 01:10 pm (UTC)
slatts
Jul. 9th, 2008 01:20 pm (UTC)
Any progress on your Beatles-related book?
No, another stand-still. I don't know "what" to write. Especially, after reading so many noble causes and underlying themes etc. of "real" writers in blogville -- I just get that "who really cares" attitude. THAT and I seem to have my irons in too many fires...


Anyhow...


The George quote is from his song Savoy Truffle which seemed like a good reply from those "poor oysters."
p_sunshine
Jul. 9th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
way off topic, but something I thought you should see.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/express/pdfs/EXPRESS_07082008.pdf

page 2. A friend of mine pointed this out to me. It will take a bit to load, since it loads the entire 40 pages of the express, but I was outraged by the headline and have a feeling you'd be on the same page.

If you'd like to write the editor, http://www.readexpress.com/contactus.php
kellyrfineman
Jul. 9th, 2008 05:10 pm (UTC)
Re: way off topic, but something I thought you should see.
The one about women not driving stick?
p_sunshine
Jul. 9th, 2008 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: way off topic, but something I thought you should see.
That would be the one. A bunch of my friends and I were pretty infuriated by that. I realize it was probably meant to be tongue in cheek, but the article was about a woman who didn't set her parking break, not about driving stick. And looking at other newspapers who printed that AP article, not one of them went for the masochistic headline.
kellyrfineman
Jul. 9th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
Re: way off topic, but something I thought you should see.
Misogynists piss me off. As you correctly surmised.

And you're right, the article had nothing to do with driving stick. I hope the editor gets reprimanded and/or suspended for that.
liz_scanlon
Jul. 10th, 2008 02:35 am (UTC)
Um. If you ever go on vacation can the little guy who works in the back office of your brain come to work in my brain for awhile?
kellyrfineman
Jul. 10th, 2008 03:06 am (UTC)
I'm leaving for a short vacation tomorrow (hosting of Poetry Friday notwithstanding). But, as the little man usually travels with me, I'm afraid you are out of luck.
( 13 comments — Leave a comment )

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