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From time to time, for reasons I cannot explain, snippets of Lewis Carroll pop into my mind. And I promise you faithfully that I did not re-read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland all that many times, yet the poems and songs from it (and from Through the Looking Glass) turn up again and again. Today, it's "The Lobster Quadrille" from Chapter 10 of Wonderland:

The Lobster Quadrille
by Lewis Carroll

"Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.
"There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
They are waiting on the shingle - will you come and join the dance?
    Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?
    Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?

"You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!"
But the snail replied "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance -
Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
  Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
  Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

"What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied.
"There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
The further off from England the nearer is to France -
Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
  Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?
  Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"

Some say it's a parody of "The Spider and the Fly" by Mary Howitt, which begins "'Will you come into my parlor?' said the spider to the fly." It's not actually a parody, although it borrows the metre, and the first lines are related. Why? My theory is that "The Spider and the Fly" was set to music, and it was a cue to folks who knew the tune to sing "The Lobster Quadrille" to the same tune.

Regardless, it is a fun poem.

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( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
Isn't it great?
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:16 am (UTC)
I've always loved the rhythm of this poem - thanks for reminding me on a Friday morning!
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:41 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:39 am (UTC)
I loved Alice in Wonderland - I also liked that poem about...was it the oysters? I remembered it was something about how they were coerced into being eaten! I like how Carroll's poems are so logically constructed and completely nonsensical at the same time.
Oct. 17th, 2008 02:13 pm (UTC)
"The Walrus And The Carpenter."

Edited at 2008-10-17 02:15 pm (UTC)
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
I posted that one before. I love the start: "The time has come, the Walrus said, to talk of many things/of dumbdadumb and sealing wax/of cabbages and kings." (I'm missing three syllables - can you tell which ones?)
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:42 pm (UTC)
It is indeed the Walrus and the Carpenter. Here's a link to a prior post of that poem.
Oct. 17th, 2008 11:58 am (UTC)
So much fun. Now I can't get it out of my head, just like the Hank Green dance the other day . . .
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
Will you, won't you, will you, won't you Numa Numa dance?
Oct. 17th, 2008 02:17 pm (UTC)
Thanks for another treat from Lewis Carroll!
Oct. 17th, 2008 03:44 pm (UTC)
I do so love my Lewis Carroll.
Oct. 17th, 2008 04:47 pm (UTC)
Love it
I had completely forgotten about this one. Thanks for bringing it back to me. I'll read it to my kids during rest time today.

:: Adventures In Daily Living :: (http://adventuresindailyliving.blogspot.com)
Oct. 17th, 2008 08:29 pm (UTC)
Re: Love it
I hope the kids enjoyed it!
Oct. 17th, 2008 05:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you for posting this. It's a fun poem and a reminder I can understand some poetry. :)
Oct. 17th, 2008 08:30 pm (UTC)
The best poetry is understandable. The obscure stuff tends to be smug twaddle, in my opinion.
Oct. 17th, 2008 08:35 pm (UTC)
Smug Twaddle.

What a great name for a band!
Oct. 17th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
TadMack says: :)
I think it might be related to the Spider/Fly thing, but not so much parody... it's kind of the same thing, in a way. They're both about taking risks. I love to read this all in one breath (well, as much as I can). Sometimes sing-songy meter is so fun.
Oct. 17th, 2008 08:31 pm (UTC)
Re: TadMack says: :)
I agree. I think he borrowed the meter and the theme, then went his own way with it. And I seem to recall hearing that The Spider and the Fly was sung to children, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if the conscious reference in the first line was to prompt folks to sing this to the same tune.
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:07 am (UTC)
Carroll is so fun to read/recite and it is all full of so many layers. Sounds so easy but is really so difficult to do!
Oct. 18th, 2008 01:20 am (UTC)
Lewis Carroll
I love Carroll's poetry. Sometimes "Beautiful Soup" wafts through my mind.
Oct. 18th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
So fun! I can't wait to read those books to my girls.
Oct. 19th, 2008 08:27 pm (UTC)
You never know what's going to stick in your head, even if you only read it once. Fun poem, and interesting thought about why it might have the same metre as The Spider and the Fly.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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