Alice in Wonderland turns 142

I have little SMS alerts sent to my cellphone every day with famous events that happened on that day in history. Today I got one that included “Lewis Carroll published ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland'” (1865). Carroll is one of my favorite authors and I love this story, so I thought I’d hop over to Wikipedia and see what the entry for Alice in Winderland was like. Well I noticed righ away that the publish date they have is listed as June 4th, 1885, not November 26th as my SMS message was telling me.

Well I did a quick little Google search and found this page, which had this information:

It was on this day in 1862 that mathematician Charles Lutdwidge Dodgson sent a handwritten manuscript called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground as a present to Alice Liddell, the ten-year-old daughter of a colleague. Dodgson had improvised the story about a girl who falls down a rabbit hole during a boating trip on the Thames with her family. In 1865, Dodgson published the story at his own expense, titling it Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and using the pen name Lewis Carroll.

So there you have it. Why am I posting all of this? No reason really, other than it made me think of one of his other famous poems, The Walrus and the Carpenter.

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 love this poem, and I don’t even like poetry. And Happy Birthday to Alice.

2 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland turns 142

  1. I saw an exhibition of Lewis Carroll/Charles Dodgson’s photography at the Art Institute in Chicago earlier this year. It was one of the more disturbing exhibitions I’ve ever seen. He took a lot of photos of young girls and had them in adult clothing and adult poses (which isn’t to say that they’re necessarily sexual – they’re just not natural of a 12 year old). The photos in this online gallery don’t really speak to the creepiness that I witnessed, but they’re worth a look.

    He also took a number of photos of Alice Liddell – the girl who “Alice” was written for.

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