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The Lobster Quadrille -- Lewis Carroll

       
(Poem #935) The Lobster Quadrille
 "Will you walk a little faster?" said a whiting to a snail.
 "There's a porpoise close behind us, and he's treading on my tail.
 See how eagerly the lobsters and the turtles all advance!
 They are waiting on the shingle - will you come and join the dance?
   Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?
   Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?

 "You can really have no notion how delightful it will be
 When they take us up and throw us, with the lobsters, out to sea!"
 But the snail replied "Too far, too far!" and gave a look askance -
 Said he thanked the whiting kindly, but he would not join the dance.
   Would not, could not, would not, could not, would not join the dance.
   Would not, could not, would not, could not, could not join the dance.

 "What matters it how far we go?" his scaly friend replied.
 "There is another shore, you know, upon the other side.
 The further off from England the nearer is to France -
 Then turn not pale, beloved snail, but come and join the dance.
   Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, will you join the dance?
   Will you, won't you, will you, won't you, won't you join the dance?"
-- Lewis Carroll
Note: A parody of Mary Howitt's "The Spider and the Fly"

Today's poem is another of those wonderful pieces that practically sing
themselves. Of course, this is due in part to the fact that Howitt's
original has picked up an associated melody that naturally attaches itself
to Carroll's parody too, but even without taking that into consideration,
Caroll's words and rhythms have a musicality that far improves upon "The
Spider and the Fly".

The poem is also a lovely example of Carroll's rather whimsical sense of
humour - the images are not just funny but delightfully individual. Less
clear is why he picked on Howitt - most of the other parodies in Alice
target poems that by their sheer sententiousness are 'asking for it'.
Perhaps it was Howitt's annoying addition of a moral to the tale, or
perhaps, for once, he just liked the rhythm of the piece :)

Links:

  Biography: [broken link] http://65.107.211.206/victorian/carroll/carrollbio.html

  "The Spider and the Fly": http://ingeb.org/songs/thespide.html

  A list of Carroll's parodies (incomplete - today's poem is one of the
  omissions):
    [broken link] http://home.earthlink.net/~lfdean/carroll/parody/

  The Poets' Corner parody index:
    [broken link] http://www.geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/SubjIdx/parodies.html

  Carroll on Minstrels:
    Poem #52, "Jabberwocky"
    Poem #265, "The Mad Gardener's Song"
    Poem #347, "The Walrus and the Carpenter"
    Poem #409, "Poeta Fit, Non Nascitur"
    Poem #600, "The Mouse's Tale"

-martin

33 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Anustup Datta said...

Dear Martin

Lovely poem - but are you sure it is a parody of Howitt's poem? Martin
Gardner in 'The Annotated Alice' rather skirts the issue - unlike the other
parodies. I also thought I could detect Lear's "The Owl and the Pussycat" in
traces - though I am not sure it was published before Alice was. Lear was
the senior anyway by a couple of decades, so it might have been. What say?

Anustup

Martin DeMello said...

Also sprach Anustup Datta...
> Lovely poem - but are you sure it is a parody of Howitt's poem?
...

Hm - I thought the first line was pretty much a giveaway, but you could be
right - it might not be exclusively based on the Spider and the Fly. I'd
still say Howitt's poem was the primary source, though.

m.

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