THIS MONTH’S PARODY (Sept 13) Jabberwocky

 

JABBERWOCKY

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832-98) is known to the whole world by his pen name Lewis Carroll. This poem is read by Alice in the early part of his novel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), the successor to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The first verse was actually written years earlier in 1855 for Carroll’s periodical Mischmasch which he illustrated himself and produced for the amusement of his family.  It was entitled ‘Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry’. The original read:

Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
Did gyre and gymble in ye wabe:
All mimsy were ye borogoves;
And ye mome raths outgrabe.

The rest of the poem was written in Whitburn, near Sunderland, where Carroll was staying with relatives. It is reckoned to be one of the finest nonsense poems in the English language and contains several words that have since passed into the OED such as ‘galumphing’, ‘chortle’ and ‘frabjous’ – the latter a word which we really should make more use of, meaning ‘fabulous, joyous’. ‘Beamish’ looks like a Carroll invention (meaning ‘cheerful, beaming’) but is traced back by the OED to 1531.

Frank Jacobs (b.1929). who wrote the clever Hollywood parody (below) is a writer best known for his spoofs and lampoons for the magazine MAD to which he has contributed since 1957. 

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;
Long time the manxome foe he sought—
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”
He chortled in his joy.

‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

 

HOLLYWOOD JABBERWOCKY
Frank Jacobs from MAD FOR BETTER OR VERSE (Warner, 1975)

’Twas Bogart and the Franchot Tones
Did Greer and Garson in the Wayne;
All Muni were the Lewis Stones,
And Rooneyed with Fontaine.

“Beware the deadly Rathbone, son!
Don’t Bellamy the Barrymore!
Beware that you the Greenstreet shun,
And likewise Eric Blore!”

He took his Oakie firm in hand,
Long time the Bracken foe to quell;
He stopped to pray at Turhan Bey,
And murmured, “Joan Blondell.”

And as he Breened with Jagger drawn,
The deadly Rathbone, eyes Astaire,
Came Rafting through the Oberon
And Harlowed everywhere!

Sabu! Sabu! And Richard Loo!
The Oakie gave a Hardwicke smarck!
He seized its Flynn, and with a Quinn,
He went Karloffing back.

“And didst thou Dunne the Rathbone, Ladd?
Come Grable in the Eddy, boy!
O Alice Faye! O Joel McCrea!”
He Cagneyed in his Loy.

‘Twas Bogart and the Franchot Tones
Did Greer and Garson in the Wayne;
All Muni were the Lewis Stones,
And Rooneyed with Fontaine.

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