“Round the Sun-dial” – Jabberwocky in Prose

Introduction: Somebody Killed Something

‘It seems very pretty,’ she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s rather hard to understand!’ (You see she didn’t like to confess, ever to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas— only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, somebody killed something: that’s clear, at any rate—’

—Alice, remarking on Jabberwocky

A studiously cerebral learnéd exordium on transmogrifying the rune of Jabber onto prose; on thrusting, molding verse to shape diegesis; on strophes composed of cunning, canny claptrap, drivel, twaddle, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, twined and twirled as yarn and spiel to tell a tale as poesy in prose.1

Round the Sun-dial [1-3]

Holes punctured the grass-plot round a sun-dial at four o’clock one afternoon.2 Earth screeched in tones of scratching from the digging of the Toves—those lithe and slimy vermin; part lizard, part badger, part corkscrew; they rotate as gyroscopes; eat nothing but cheese, and only make their nests on grass-plots under sun-dials. Wounding noise of drilling cavities brought misery to Borogoves—shabby-looking kind of Parrots that have no wings; their beaks turn up; feathers-tattered, living-mops of sorts; eat nothing but veal, and also only make their nests on grass-plots under sun-dials. They’re now extinct.3

Sound, its tone part sneezing, part whistling, part bellowing roar of an animal far from its home, as if it lost its way and now begging for a grave. It was shriek of Raths—shark mouthed green pigs and land turtles that keep their head upright; eat nothing but swallows and oysters, and walk on their knees, for they curl their front forelegs absurdly.4

  1. For glossary of terms see Additional Material for the Jabberwocky Acolyte
  2. ’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves \ Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
  3. All mimsy were the borogoves,
  4. And the mome raths outgrabe.