Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Crocodile by Lewis Carroll

The Crocodile

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!

How cheerfully he seems to grin!
How neatly spread his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in
With gently smiling jaws!
--Lewis Carroll

I was reminded of Lewis Carroll yesterday, so one of his poems stood out to me today when I was looking for a short poem to post. For those that might be interested, here is the poem he's doing a parody of.
Against Idleness and Mischief
from Divine Songs for Children

HOW doth the little busy bee
Improve each shining hour,
And gather honey all the day
From every opening flower!

How skillfully she builds her cell!
How neat she spreads the wax!
And labours hard to store it well
With the sweet food she makes.

In works of labour or of skill,
I would be busy too;
For Satan finds some mischief still
For idle hands to do.

In books, or work, or healthful play,
Let my first years be passed,
That I may give for every day
Some good account at last.
--Isaac Watts

If you read many of Issac Watts's poems, you'll find that they're just the sort of moralizing tripe that they used to make children memorize and recite in school and church contests. I'm glad that they don't make kids waste their time memorizing poetry that doesn't have much literary merit anymore, but I do wish that more children were encouraged to memorize and recite GOOD stuff.

Reading the poem below really makes me appreciate the excellent job Lewis Carroll did in re-writing it. I'm somehow reminded of John Bytheway's parodies of Primary songs like "I have five little fingers on this little hand, there are six on the other, I don't understand. During all the long hours 'till daylight is through, I have one little finger with nothing to do"

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