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Best Famous Lewis Carroll Poems

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Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Four Riddles

 I 

There was an ancient City, stricken down
With a strange frenzy, and for many a day
They paced from morn to eve the crowded town,
And danced the night away.
I asked the cause: the aged man grew sad: They pointed to a building gray and tall, And hoarsely answered "Step inside, my lad, And then you'll see it all.
" Yet what are all such gaieties to me Whose thoughts are full of indices and surds? x*x + 7x + 53 = 11/3 But something whispered "It will soon be done: Bands cannot always play, nor ladies smile: Endure with patience the distasteful fun For just a little while!" A change came o'er my Vision - it was night: We clove a pathway through a frantic throng: The steeds, wild-plunging, filled us with affright: The chariots whirled along.
Within a marble hall a river ran - A living tide, half muslin and half cloth: And here one mourned a broken wreath or fan, Yet swallowed down her wrath; And here one offered to a thirsty fair (His words half-drowned amid those thunders tuneful) Some frozen viand (there were many there), A tooth-ache in each spoonful.
There comes a happy pause, for human strength Will not endure to dance without cessation; And every one must reach the point at length Of absolute prostration.
At such a moment ladies learn to give, To partners who would urge them over-much, A flat and yet decided negative - Photographers love such.
There comes a welcome summons - hope revives, And fading eyes grow bright, and pulses quicken: Incessant pop the corks, and busy knives Dispense the tongue and chicken.
Flushed with new life, the crowd flows back again: And all is tangled talk and mazy motion - Much like a waving field of golden grain, Or a tempestuous ocean.
And thus they give the time, that Nature meant For peaceful sleep and meditative snores, To ceaseless din and mindless merriment And waste of shoes and floors.
And One (we name him not) that flies the flowers, That dreads the dances, and that shuns the salads, They doom to pass in solitude the hours, Writing acrostic-ballads.
How late it grows! The hour is surely past That should have warned us with its double knock? The twilight wanes, and morning comes at last - "Oh, Uncle, what's o'clock?" The Uncle gravely nods, and wisely winks.
It MAY mean much, but how is one to know? He opens his mouth - yet out of it, methinks, No words of wisdom flow.
II Empress of Art, for thee I twine This wreath with all too slender skill.
Forgive my Muse each halting line, And for the deed accept the will! O day of tears! Whence comes this spectre grim, Parting, like Death's cold river, souls that love? Is not he bound to thee, as thou to him, By vows, unwhispered here, yet heard above? And still it lives, that keen and heavenward flame, Lives in his eye, and trembles in his tone: And these wild words of fury but proclaim A heart that beats for thee, for thee alone! But all is lost: that mighty mind o'erthrown, Like sweet bells jangled, piteous sight to see! "Doubt that the stars are fire," so runs his moan, "Doubt Truth herself, but not my love for thee!" A sadder vision yet: thine aged sire Shaming his hoary locks with treacherous wile! And dost thou now doubt Truth to be a liar? And wilt thou die, that hast forgot to smile? Nay, get thee hence! Leave all thy winsome ways And the faint fragrance of thy scattered flowers: In holy silence wait the appointed days, And weep away the leaden-footed hours.
III.
The air is bright with hues of light And rich with laughter and with singing: Young hearts beat high in ecstasy, And banners wave, and bells are ringing: But silence falls with fading day, And there's an end to mirth and play.
Ah, well-a-day Rest your old bones, ye wrinkled crones! The kettle sings, the firelight dances.
Deep be it quaffed, the magic draught That fills the soul with golden fancies! For Youth and Pleasance will not stay, And ye are withered, worn, and gray.
Ah, well-a-day! O fair cold face! O form of grace, For human passion madly yearning! O weary air of dumb despair, From marble won, to marble turning! "Leave us not thus!" we fondly pray.
"We cannot let thee pass away!" Ah, well-a-day! IV.
My First is singular at best: More plural is my Second: My Third is far the pluralest - So plural-plural, I protest It scarcely can be reckoned! My First is followed by a bird: My Second by believers In magic art: my simple Third Follows, too often, hopes absurd And plausible deceivers.
My First to get at wisdom tries - A failure melancholy! My Second men revered as wise: My Third from heights of wisdom flies To depths of frantic folly.
My First is ageing day by day: My Second's age is ended: My Third enjoys an age, they say, That never seems to fade away, Through centuries extended.
My Whole? I need a poet's pen To paint her myriad phases: The monarch, and the slave, of men - A mountain-summit, and a den Of dark and deadly mazes - A flashing light - a fleeting shade - Beginning, end, and middle Of all that human art hath made Or wit devised! Go, seek HER aid, If you would read my riddle!
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Jabberwocky

'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 a while 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! Oh 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.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

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— And 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.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Little Birds

 Little Birds are dining
Warily and well,
Hid in mossy cell:
Hid, I say, by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters -
I've a Tale to tell.
Little Birds are feeding Justices with jam, Rich in frizzled ham: Rich, I say, in oysters Haunting shady cloisters - That is what I am.
Little Birds are teaching Tigresses to smile, Innocent of guile: Smile, I say, not smirkle - Mouth a semicircle, That's the proper style! Little Birds are sleeping All among the pins, Where the loser wins: Where, I say, he sneezes When and how he pleases - So the Tale begins.
Little Birds are writing Interesting books, To be read by cooks: Read, I say, not roasted - Letterpress, when toasted, Loses its good looks.
Little Birds are playing Bagpipes on the shore, Where the tourists snore: "Thanks!" they cry.
"'Tis thrilling! Take, oh take this shilling! Let us have no more!" Little Birds are bathing Crocodiles in cream, Like a happy dream: Like, but not so lasting - Crocodiles, when fasting, Are not all they seem! Little Birds are choking Baronets with bun, Taught to fire a gun: Taught, I say, to splinter Salmon in the winter - Merely for the fun.
Little Birds are hiding Crimes in carpet-bags, Blessed by happy stags: Blessed, I say, though beaten - Since our friends are eaten When the memory flags.
Little Birds are tasting Gratitude and gold, Pale with sudden cold: Pale, I say, and wrinkled - When the bells have tinkled, And the Tale is told.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Rules and Regulations

 A short direction 
To avoid dejection, 
By variations 
In occupations, 
And prolongation 
Of relaxation, 
And combinations 
Of recreations, 
And disputation 
On the state of the nation 
In adaptation
To your station, 
By invitations 
To friends and relations, 
By evitation 
Of amputation, 
By permutation 
In conversation, 
And deep reflection 
You'll avoid dejection.
Learn well your grammar, And never stammer, Write well and neatly, And sing most sweetly, Be enterprising, Love early rising, Go walk of six miles, Have ready quick smiles, With lightsome laughter, Soft flowing after.
Drink tea, not coffee; Never eat toffy.
Eat bread with butter.
Once more, don't stutter.
Don't waste your money, Abstain from honey.
Shut doors behind you, (Don't slam them, mind you.
) Drink beer, not porter.
Don't enter the water Till to swim you are able.
Sit close to the table.
Take care of a candle.
Shut a door by the handle, Don't push with your shoulder Until you are older.
Lose not a button.
Refuse cold mutton.
Starve your canaries.
Believe in fairies.
If you are able, Don't have a stable With any mangers.
Be rude to strangers.
Moral: Behave.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Acrostic

 Little maidens, when you look 
On this little story-book, 
Reading with attentive eye 
Its enticing history, 
Never think that hours of play 
Are your only HOLIDAY, 
And that in a HOUSE of joy 
Lessons serve but to annoy: 
If in any HOUSE you find 
Children of a gentle mind, 
Each the others pleasing ever-- 
Each the others vexing never-- 
Daily work and pastime daily 
In their order taking gaily-- 
Then be very sure that they 
Have a life of HOLIDAY.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Punctuality

 Man Naturally loves delay,
And to procrastinate;
Business put off from day to day
Is always done to late.
Let ever hour be in its place Firm fixed, nor loosely shift, And well enjoy the vacant space, As though a birthday gift.
And when the hour arrives, be there, Where'er that "there" may be; Uncleanly hands or ruffled hair Let no one ever see.
If dinner at "half-past" be placed, At "half-past" then be dressed.
If at a "quarter-past" make haste To be down with the rest Better to be before you time, Than e're to be behind; To open the door while strikes the chime, That shows a punctual mind.
Moral: Let punctuality and care Seize every flitting hour, So shalt thou cull a floweret fair, E'en from a fading flower
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

All In The Golden Afternoon

 All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretense
Our wanderings to guide.
Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour, Beneath such dreamy weather, To beg a tale of breath too weak To stir the tiniest feather! Yet what can one poor voice avail Against three tongues together? Imperious Prima flashes forth Her edict to "begin it"-- In gentler tones Secunda hopes "There will be nonsense in it"-- While Tertia interrupts the tale Not more than once a minute.
Anon, to sudden silence won, In fancy they pursue The dream-child moving through a land Of wonders wild and new, In friendly chat with bird or beast-- And half believe it true.
And ever, as the story drained The wells of fancy dry, And faintly strove that weary one To put the subject by, "The rest next time"--"It is next time!" The happy voices cry.
Thus grew the tale of Wonderland: Thus slowly, one by one, Its quaint events were hammered out-- And now the tale is done, And home we steer, a merry crew, Beneath the setting sun.
Alice! a childish story take, And with a gentle hand Lay it where Childhood's dreams are twined In Memory's mystic band, Like pilgrim's withered wreath of flowers Plucked in a far-off land.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

A Valentine

 Sent to a friend who had complained that I was glad enough to see 
him when he came, but didn't seem to miss him if he stayed away.
And cannot pleasures, while they last, Be actual unless, when past, They leave us shuddering and aghast, With anguish smarting? And cannot friends be firm and fast, And yet bear parting? And must I then, at Friendship's call, Calmly resign the little all (Trifling, I grant, it is and small) I have of gladness, And lend my being to the thrall Of gloom and sadness? And think you that I should be dumb, And full DOLORUM OMNIUM, Excepting when YOU choose to come And share my dinner? At other times be sour and glum And daily thinner? Must he then only live to weep, Who'd prove his friendship true and deep By day a lonely shadow creep, At night-time languish, Oft raising in his broken sleep The moan of anguish? The lover, if for certain days His fair one be denied his gaze, Sinks not in grief and wild amaze, But, wiser wooer, He spends the time in writing lays, And posts them to her.
And if the verse flow free and fast, Till even the poet is aghast, A touching Valentine at last The post shall carry, When thirteen days are gone and past Of February.
Farewell, dear friend, and when we meet, In desert waste or crowded street, Perhaps before this week shall fleet, Perhaps to-morrow.
I trust to find YOUR heart the seat Of wasting sorrow.
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

A Boat beneath a Sunny Sky

 A BOAT beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July --
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise, Alice moving under skies Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear, Eager eye and willing ear, Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie, Dreaming as the days go by, Dreaming as the summers die: Ever drifting down the stream -- Lingering in the golden dream -- Life, what is it but a dream? THE END
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Another Acrostic ( In the style of Father William )

 "Are you deaf, Father William!" the young man said, 
"Did you hear what I told you just now? 
"Excuse me for shouting! Don't waggle your head 
"Like a blundering, sleepy old cow! 
"A little maid dwelling in Wallington Town, 
"Is my friend, so I beg to remark: 
"Do you think she'd be pleased if a book were sent down 
"Entitled 'The Hunt of the Snark?'" 


"Pack it up in brown paper!" the old man cried, 
"And seal it with olive-and-dove.
"I command you to do it!" he added with pride, "Nor forget, my good fellow to send her beside "Easter Greetings, and give her my love.
"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

My Fairy

 I have a fairy by my side 
Which says I must not sleep, 
When once in pain I loudly cried 
It said "You must not weep" 
If, full of mirth, I smile and grin, 
It says "You must not laugh" 
When once I wished to drink some gin 
It said "You must not quaff".
When once a meal I wished to taste It said "You must not bite" When to the wars I went in haste It said "You must not fight".
"What may I do?" at length I cried, Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied, And said "You must not ask".
Moral: "You mustn't.
"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

Fit the Seventh ( Hunting of the Snark )

 The Banker's Fate 

They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
They pursued it with forks and hope; 
They threatened its life with a railway-share; 
They charmed it with smiles and soap.
And the Banker, inspired with a courage so new It was matter for general remark, Rushed madly ahead and was lost to their view In his zeal to discover the Snark.
But while he was seeking with thimbles and care, A Bandersnatch swiftly drew nigh And grabbed at the Banker, who shrieked in despair, For he knew it was useless to fly.
He offered large discount--he offered a cheque (Drawn "to bearer") for seven-pounds-ten: But the Bandersnatch merely extended its neck And grabbed at the Banker again.
Without rest or pause--while those frumious jaws Went savagely snapping around-- He skipped and he hopped, and he floundered and flopped, Till fainting he fell to the ground.
The Bandersnatch fled as the others appeared Led on by that fear-stricken yell: And the Bellman remarked "It is just as I feared!" And solemnly tolled on his bell.
He was black in the face, and they scarcely could trace The least likeness to what he had been: While so great was the fright that his waistcoat turned white-- A wonderful thing to be seen! To the horror of all who were present that day, He uprose in full evening dress, And with senseless grimaces endeavoured to say What his tongue could no longer express.
Down he sank in a chair--ran his hands through his hair-- And chanted in mimsiest tones Words whose utter inanity proved his insanity, While he rattled a couple of bones.
"Leave him here to his fate--it is getting so late!" The Bellman exclaimed in a fright.
"We have lost half a day.
Any further delay, And we sha'n't catch a Snark before night!"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

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!"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

The Mad Gardeners 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 realise,' 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!' 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!' He thought he saw a Argument That proved he was the Pope: He looked again, and found it was A Bar of Mottled Soap.
'A fact so dread,' he faintly said, 'Extinguishes all hope!'