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The author of today's poem would have celebrated his birthday earlier this week (on the 27th, to be exact). He wrote poetry as well as prose, and also contributed to the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary, along with being a photographer. And he also taught mathematics. Basically, he was a polymath.

Anyhow, today I'm sharing a short poem by Lewis Carroll from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland:

How Doth the Little Crocodile
by Lewis Carroll

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!


This poem is a parody poem of a well-known "instructional" poem at that time, "Against Idleness and Mischief" from a book called Divine Songs for Children by Isaac Watts, a noted Nonconformist hymnwriter. It begins "How doth the little busy bee/Improve each shining hour,/And gather honey all the day/From every opening flower!", and ends with exhortations to be diligent and avoid Satan. You can read the full text here. Carroll's poem is still widely anthologized for children these days, whereas the Watts poem has fallen out of favor.

You can find other Poetry Friday posts by clicking the box below, which will take you to today's host, Reading to the Core:





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Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
(Deleted comment)
kellyrfineman
Feb. 1st, 2016 06:23 pm (UTC)
Kids respond to the humor in the word-play, for sure. The gently-smiling jaws eating the fish definitely is part of the appeal.
Mary Lee Hahn
Jan. 30th, 2016 01:35 pm (UTC)
Holy Coincidence, Batman! One of my students read this poem to the class for Poetry Friday yesterday morning!!!
kellyrfineman
Feb. 1st, 2016 06:22 pm (UTC)
Nice!
readingtothecore.wordpress.com
Jan. 31st, 2016 04:11 am (UTC)
The Little Crocodile
Kids always love this poem. It must have something do to with those "gently smiling jaws!"
kellyrfineman
Feb. 1st, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
Re: The Little Crocodile
I think kids respond to the fact that the crocodile is eating the fish, not just being kind . . .
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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