Lewis Carroll

(27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898 / Cheshire)

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A Game of Fives


Five little girls, of Five, Four, Three, Two, One:
Rolling on the hearthrug, full of tricks and fun.

Five rosy girls, in years from Ten to Six:
Sitting down to lessons - no more time for tricks.

Five growing girls, from Fifteen to Eleven:
Music, Drawing, Languages, and food enough for seven!

Five winsome girls, from Twenty to Sixteen:
Each young man that calls, I say "Now tell me which you MEAN!"

Five dashing girls, the youngest Twenty-one:
But, if nobody proposes, what is there to be done?

Five showy girls - but Thirty is an age
When girls may be ENGAGING, but they somehow don't ENGAGE.

Five dressy girls, of Thirty-one or more:
So gracious to the shy young men they snubbed so much before!


Five PASSE girls - Their age? Well, never mind!
We jog along together, like the rest of human kind:
But the quondam "careless bachelor" begins to think he knows
The answer to that ancient problem "how the money goes"!

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Michelle Claus (9/16/2014 11:36:00 AM)

    Perfect! This poem must have been as fun to compose as it is to read. I enjoy the various ways in which Carroll describes the five girls' ages at the start of each stanza. I've been thinking a lot about the stages of life that a female passes through, because now I'm entering Passe. Time to step aside and make room for the new generation of dashing, showy, and dressy ladies. Such is the rhythm of Life. Bittersweet, indeed. (Report) Reply

  • * Sunprincess * (4/1/2014 2:46:00 PM)

    .....one of my favourite poets...love the alice in wonderland story....and enjoyed this lovely piece... (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (9/16/2013 3:45:00 AM)

    One of my favourite writers. This has humour and encourages a moment of pity in the middle A fun clever piece although I must say not one of my favourites of his. Yet as ever such a comfortable flow. Tyvm Karen (Report) Reply

  • Karen Sinclair (9/16/2013 3:44:00 AM)

    One of my favourite writers. This has humour and encourages a moment of pity in the middle A fun clever piece although I must say not one of my favourites of his. Yet as ever such a comfortable flow. Tyvm Karen (Report) Reply

  • Philo Yan (9/16/2012 11:49:00 PM)

    Some families of women of that era equate husband material based on how wealthy the man or his family was. With such standards, the young women may find it hard to marry if they want t to marry for love and not for money. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/16/2012 10:50:00 AM)

    These are five girls who will never have sex; usual in those days in middle class houses. Women were marriage fodder or on the shelf all their lives. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/16/2011 2:54:00 PM)

    Many roles for the female to play in life! Their part of play is well depicted by the critical observation of Lewis Carroll! Is it fair to confine life of man and woman with money at the end! (Report) Reply

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