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How Doth the Little Crocodile -- Lewis Carroll

Guest poem sent in by Rajarshi Bandyopadhyay
(Poem #964) How Doth the Little 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 spreads his claws,
 And welcomes little fishes in,
     With gently smiling jaws!
-- Lewis Carroll
Yesterday's 8-line Kipling poem ["The Idiot Boy" -m.] somehow reminded me
(maybe coz of the similar rhythm) of another famous 8-liner, also a parody
of something I don't quite remember. But then, when a parody is more
familiar than the original...says something about the parodist, doesn't it?

"How Doth the Little Crocodile" had the same effect on me as the Kipling does not make me roll over in laughter...but just smile happily
for a long time appreciating the impact of the imagery.


[Martin adds]

Carroll was parodying Isaac Watts' "Against Idleness and Mischief", a rather
tedious and moralistic poem (and a prime example of what I call "Good Advice
for the Younger Generation") that well deserved it. As Raj said, when a
parody is more famous than the original it certainly does say something
about the parodist; in this case we can safely conclude that it says
something about the original too.


  [broken link] has a
  side-by-side printing of Carroll's parody and Watts' original

  Kipling's "Idiot Boy": Poem #962

  Some links on Carroll as parodist : Poem #935

35 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Suresh Ramasubramanian said...

+++ Martin Julian DeMello [17/12/01 00:36 -0600]:
> Guest poem sent in by Rajarshi Bandyopadhyay
> And welcomes little fishes in,
> With gently smiling jaws!

Jaws - reminded me of this Shakespearean spoof from Huck Finn... attributed
to the 'Duke' (part of those two conmen, the King and the Duke, that Huck and
Jim meet when rafting down the river).

It is *supposed* to be from Hamlet's soliloquy - and there's a lot of
Shakespeare brilliantly mixed up from Othello, Macbeth ...

In particular, the last line where Hamlet telling Ophelia "Ope thee not they
ponderous marble jaws ..." :)


"Hamlet's Soliloquy"
- Mark Twain / Samuel Langhorne Clemens

To be, or not to be; that is the bare bodkin That makes
calamity of so long life; For who would fardels bear, till
Birnam Wood do come to Dunsinane, But that the fear of
something after death Murders the innocent sleep, Great
nature's second course, And makes us rather sling the arrows of
outrageous fortune Than fly to others that we know not of.
There's the respect must give us pause: Wake Duncan with thy
knocking! I would thou couldst; For who would bear the whips
and scorns of time, The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's
contumely, The law's delay, and the quietus which his pangs
might take, In the dead waste and middle of the night, when
churchyards yawn In customary suits of solemn black, But that
the undiscovered country from whose bourne no traveler returns,
Breathes forth contagion on the world, And thus the native hue
of resolution, like the poor cat i' the adage, Is sicklied o'er
with care, And all the clouds that lowered o'er our housetops,
With this regard their currents turn awry, And lose the name of
action. 'Tis a consummation devoutly to be wished. But soft
you, the fair Ophelia: Ope not thy ponderous and marble jaws,
But get thee to a nunnery -- go!

Martin DeMello said...

I don't know why he wrote 'em, or what he's trying to say
I guess he thought them funny in a twisted sort of way
But I'll never live down how my verses were mocked in Alice

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But that the worry of something after loss of life Killings the simple rest, Great nature's second course, also a parody of something I don't quite keep in mind. But then, when a parody is more
familiar than the original

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