Treasure Island

Lewis Carroll

(27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898 / Cheshire)

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A Strange Wild Song


He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
"At length I realize," he said,
"The bitterness of life!"

He thought he saw a Buffalo
Upon the chimney-piece:
He looked again, and found it was
His Sister's Husband's Niece.
"Unless you leave this house," he said,
"I'll send for the police!"

he thought he saw a Rattlesnake
That questioned him in Greek:
He looked again, and found it was
The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said,
"Is that it cannot speak!"

He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk
Descending from the bus:
He looked again, and found it was
A Hippopotamus.
"If this should stay to dine," he said,
"There won't be much for us!"

He thought he saw a Kangaroo
That worked a Coffee-mill:
He looked again, and found it was
A Vegetable-Pill.
"Were I to swallow this," he said,
"I should be very ill!"

He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four
That stood beside his bed:
He looked again, and found it was
A Bear without a Head.
"Poor thing," he said, "poor silly thing!
It's waiting to be fed!"

Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003

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  • Michelle Claus (5/28/2014 12:05:00 AM)

    I'd love an academic's interpretation of this poem, in case there are layers of meaning lost to me. On a surface level, it portrays something akin to dementia or madness, but maybe that's too literal.? ? At any rate, I like it. (Report) Reply

  • Eze Maximus (5/27/2014 5:08:00 AM)

    very parodied. obviously nice cut
    in a frame of its own uniqueness.
    think am gonna lay my eyes on more of his poems (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (5/28/2012 1:01:00 AM)

    Smart and impressive. We have witnessed this animalistic transformation of human figure in the work of Chaplin. Nice way to generalize the man-named animal with other animals. Perhaps we have forgotten, Man is the two footed animal who bear the same characteristics of animals howling, growling, biting and basic intincts to provoke where and when get oppertunities. I feel not bore to read this time. Nice. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh Adwant (5/27/2010 12:46:00 PM)

    Another poem by Lewis Carroll which I taught my students is 'Father William'. It also reads like this one but it is a parody. A caterpillar smoking a hookah asks Alice to recite the poem. The children's book, Alice's adventures in wonderland' has many such funny poems. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (5/27/2010 11:14:00 AM)

    This funny poetic piece reminds me of Indian tale telling about blind persons trying to understand elephant by touching each and every portion of elephant body! (Report) Reply

  • Juan Olivarez (5/27/2010 10:31:00 AM)

    Queen Victoria was so impressed with mr. Dodgen's (Carroll) work on Alice in Wonderland that she immediatly sent for all his works.She was disappointed only in the fact that most of his work at the time was in the field of mathematics and that is what she received at court. However in the realm of children's literature Lewis Carroll stands with the elite. Any attempt to disparage his works only reflect on the critic. (Report) Reply

  • Lloyd Hargrove (12/13/2009 3:17:00 PM)

    There seems to be a couple verses missing:

    He thought he saw an Albatross
    That fluttered round the Lamp;
    He looked again, and found it was
    A Penny Postage-Stamp
    'You'd best be getting home, ' he said:
    'The nights are very damp! '

    He thought he saw a Garden Door
    That opened with a key;
    He looked again, and found it was
    A Double-Rule-of-Three.
    'And all its mystery, ' he said,
    'Is clear as day to me! '

    Well, at least to him, anyway. Sigh. (Report) Reply

  • MacKenzie Ragnarok (5/27/2009 10:25:00 PM)

    I agree with the idea that fantasy and reality come into contact with eachother, but don't believe that they interrupt eachother. I think it is more of an expression of the necessity of a balanced life; an understanding or hope that one has to endure reality and its hardships to eventually reap any reward or 'fantasy'. My favourite function of the poem is the animal to situation comparison. Specifically the hippo and bank clerk. A hippo, in my opinion, represents greed. The massive mouth and ample belly just exude the imagery of vulgarity and sloth. In contrast is the bank clerk. A professional forced into a daily subservient role and regularily submitted to verbal (and possibly physical) abuse from obnoxious, 'hippo'-like clients. I really enjoyed the contrast and how it relates to the reality vs fantasy theme. (Report) Reply

  • Iris Ho (5/27/2009 8:41:00 PM)

    It's just... great. Excellent for leisure reading. Strange+Stupid but FUN! (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (5/27/2009 6:13:00 PM)

    I. Argumentum ad Hominem (abusive and circumstantial) : the fallacy of attacking the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or an argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument. Often the argument is characterized simply as a personal attack.
    A. The personal attack is also often termed an 'ad personem argument': the statement or argument at issue is dropped from consideration or is ignored, and the locutor's character or circumstances are used to influence opinion.
    B. The fallacy draws its appeal from the technique of 'getting personal.' The assumption is that what the locutor is saying is entirely or partially dictated by his character or special circumstances and so should be disregarded.

    http: //philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html (Report) Reply

  • Michael Pruchnicki (5/27/2009 6:03:00 PM)

    OK, you think it's 'kinda stupid' or 'strange and wild indeed'! Which appraisal is the mosr absurd? Does no one read Lewis Carroll these days? Diana and Kevin evidently do not, they dwell in the land of the smug and the smurf! Loosen up and lighten up, you prigs and enjoy! What the devil is the 'fantasist interrupted by the mundane', Mr. Straw? (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (5/27/2009 6:38:00 AM)

    Strange and wild indeed. But the story is the fantasist constantly interrupted by the mundane. (Report) Reply

  • Cheryl Main (5/27/2009 3:49:00 AM)

    if you only wrote what you see, where's the fun. a litttle imagation
    i love it (Report) Reply

  • Joseph Poewhit (5/27/2009 2:25:00 AM)

    Sort of a sideshow to the MAD HATTERS TEA PARTY. What more can you say about a imaginative genius writer. (Report) Reply

Read all 20 comments »

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