Trickery, Oysters, and Alice

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,

      To talk of many things:

Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —

      Of cabbages — and kings —

And why the sea is boiling hot —

      And whether pigs have wings.

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson died on January 14, 1898 (his birthday was January 27).

We know him best as the author Lewis Carroll, who brought to life Alice, the March Hare, the Mad Hatter, and the Queen of Hearts, among other familiar characters.

The poem “The Walrus and the Carpenter” is found in Alice: Through the Looking Glass. This was another of those secret, “hooray for me” moments in my childhood, the day that I memorized the first part of this poem perfectly. I loved the absurdity, the underlying naughtiness, of inviting all those little oysters to dine…and they are the main attraction! Why is it that children seem so drawn to absurd misbehavior in stories and poems? I suspect it’s a version of vicariously being wicked while sitting quietly reading a book. Aha! The subterfuge!

At any rate, near the poem’s end it says, “It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said, / To play them such a trick”—but it doesn’t really stop the Walrus or the Carpenter, does it?

Trickery, indeed.

Keep well,


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