Poetry Monday Kids’ Classic: “Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll

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 after reading “Jabberwocky”

Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll

Hello, donderfous readers! I’m so pleapful to be making my first poetic appearance on the blog since sometime in March — I’ve moffered it! And I’m even more excitillated to be back with something newld…

As a result of my convails with J. Patrick Lewis during Poetry Month, I was spryed to start a new monthly series of videos called Kids’ Classics — that’s chilsic poems recited by yours truly and whoever else I wruggle up out in the poetry fields. Pat sponed often about how much going back to the classics informed his own writing, so I went back in time to take a glanster myself…and realized I’d forgotten what amazerous tremonds there are from back in the day.

Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.
–The White Queen

I nood right away that I had to karst the new series with Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky,” perhaps the best known and most blavous of classic children’s poems. And you’ll see in the video that things are getting curiouser and curiouser here at No Water River. This poem just seemed to scryle for a little extra panoomph, so that’s what I’ve given it.

Jabberwocky creatures

If you, donderfous readers, have a fraverist classic poem from your childhood, please tell me so in the comments. If it’s free of copyright, I’ll do my best to cordorize it.

Without further baloo, I present my rendition of “Jabberwocky.” I hope you joykle it.


`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

 “Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought —
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

–Lewis Carroll
from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872

What’s Up with Lewis Carroll

Lewis CarrollReal name: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson
Dates: b. 1832 in Cheshire, England; d. 1898 in Surrey, England
Occupation: author, mathematician, logician, deacon, photographer
Works: Best known for his children’s stories Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and for his poems “Jabberwocky” and “The Hunting of the Snark.”
Known for: Word play, logic, fantasy.
Full bios and overviews
at Poetry Foundation and The Victorian Web
Facebook: Lewis Carroll
Twitter: @LewisCarroll


Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.  –Tweedledee

Glossary of Nonsense (Portmanteau) Words in this Post

I invented twenty-two words for this post, some of which may be true portmanteaux, and others that just sound funny. In order of appearance:

  • donderfous = dear + wonderful + delicious
  • pleapful = pleased
  • moffered = missed + “been off of”
  • excitillated = excited + titillated
  • newld = new + old
  • convails = conversations + emails
  • spryed = inspired + spinto (“a push” in Italian)
  • chilsic = children’s + classic
  • wruggle = rustle + wrangle + dig
  • sponed = spoke + opined
  • glanster = gander + glance
  • amazerous = amazing + wondrous
  • tremonds = treasures + diamonds
  • nood = knew + understood
  • karst = start + kick off
  • blavous = beautiful + lovely + famous
  • scryle = scream + yearn + cry out
  • panoomph = panache + oomph
  • fraverist = favorite + flavorful
  • cordorize = record + immortalize
  • baloo = ballyhoo + ado
  • joykle = enjoy + like

Extension Activities for “Jabberwocky” and Lewis Carroll

  • Creative writing, of course! Explain the term portmanteau and have students write their own nonsense verse, ensuring that it makes sense grammatically. Have students perform their poems in groups.
  • Have students decide what the nonsense words might mean, then read Humpty Dumpty’s “translations” of the portmanteau.
  • Project Carroll is a wonderful one-man initiative to “adapt Lewis Carroll’s works in a respectful, faithful, deserving way” — in this case, in the form of animated videos for each chapter in Carroll’s Alice novels.
  • Plenty of online lesson plans cover creative writing and other aspects of Carroll’s poem, including portmanteau, word analysis, and grammar. Try some of these: Bright Hub Education, Read, Write, Think, and Power to Learn.
  • For an in-depth look at the poem, eNotes provides a comprehensive “Jabberwocky” study guide.
  • Read Carroll’s complete novels, poems, and other works at Project Gutenberg.
  • Art/drama/public speaking: Students can illustrate a scene in the poem, make a complete storyboard, create their version of the Jabberwock, memorize and recite the poem, or act out the poem in groups.

We’re all mad here.  –The Cheshire Cat

Video Location: Under the TumTum tree.

See more poems in my poetry video library.
“Jabberwocky” by Lewis Carroll is out of copyright.

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  1. Renee! That was awesome! You are a woman of endless talent. I was completely entertained. I could’ve watched more and more and more!
    This will be a wonderful series and a great addition to your poetry library.

    1. Haha, Susanna….not so secretly — my undergrad degree is in acting/directing and I spent over 15 years doing theater in various capacities. I’ve just decided to dust off those skills every now and then…:)

  2. Absolutely beautiful. This must have taken a long time as it is well thought out. What’s next? The Walrus and the Carpenter, The Tyger? Okay, I’ll be patient and see what you come up with next. Thanks so much Renee. What a treat.

  3. Renee! How’d ya get to be so darn cool? 🙂 Great post. I love the idea of revisiting the classics! 🙂

  4. I love Through the Looking Glass! I like the poem you recited – and the dress and hat (don’t forget the gloves!)! Magnificent! 😀 I can see how you are an acthor/ (actor/actess and author combo) 😉

  5. Saw this the other day and finally have a chance to more properly shower you with accolades, Renee – this is incredible! I just played it for my 17-year-old, who informed me he wasn’t familiar with Jabberwocky. Very expensive high school preparatory education since kindergarten, and he didn’t know Jabberwocky?! Ah, well, sometimes a parent must step in.

    I’ve wanted to learn this by heart to recite; you’ve completely inspired me to just go ahead and do it. (Though I won’t have your cool jazz hands and custom attire….) Thanks for your endless creativity.

    1. I appreciate the accolades, Robyn — but Lewis makes it easy with this poem. 😉 And no Jabborwocky? A serious oversight for sure!

      Let me know when you’ve got it memorized. It really didn’t take too long (though, annoyingly, I made a couple small mistakes in the video). And It’s just as good without the jazz hands, too!

  6. Wonderful, Renee! I’ve loved that poem since our class did “Alice in Wonderland” in 5th grade. I love your idea for this series. And ‘wruggle’ is the best word I’ve seen in MONTHS! I will definitely start using that one. 😉

  7. You really snicker-snacked that, Renee! Swoosh! Maybe “My Last Duchess”? It’s also got the creepy.

  8. That was really great. You made me even happier than the cupcake I ate for breakfast!

    I have always loved The Tale of Custard the Dragon and so do my kids.

  9. Love every single bit. You are a lesson yourself, Renee. I can just see students finding their own poems to video themselves reciting. That would get them excited! Thank you for the creative presentation. You made this new again for me. I have one poem that I grew up with & then my middle school students loved at Halloween: “Little Orphant Annie” by James Whitcomb Riley. Thank you!

  10. Hi, Renee. This was so much fun. Jabberwocky is a favorite in my family. My brother and I, also my daughter, have the poem by heart. I love your outfit in the video!

  11. She Walks in Beauty
    by Lord Byron

    She walks in beauty, like the night
    Of cloudless climes and starry skies,
    And all that’s best of dark and bright
    Meets in her aspect and her eyes;
    Thus mellow’d to that tender light
    Which Heaven to gaudy day denies.

    One shade the more, one ray the less,
    Had half impair’d the nameless grace
    Which waves in every raven tress
    Or softly lightens o’er her face,
    Where thoughts serenely sweet express
    How pure, how dear their dwelling-place.

    And on that cheek and o’er that brow
    So soft, so calm, yet eloquent,
    The smiles that win, the tints that glow,
    But tell of days in goodness spent,—
    A mind at peace with all below,
    A heart whose love is innocent.

  12. Wow, wow, WOW! I finally made it over here to watch this and I am so joykle I did! You amazzle me!! I was rapt the whole time. Can’t wait for the rest in this series!!!

  13. Young and Old

    ~Charles Kingsley

    When all the world is young lad,
    And all the trees are green;
    And every goose a swan, lad,
    And every lass a queen;
    Then hey for boot and horse, lad,
    And round the world away;
    Young blood must have its course, lad,
    And every dog his day.

    When all the world is old, lad,
    And all the trees are brown;
    When all the sport is stale, lad,
    And all the wheels run down;
    Creep home, and take your place there,
    The spent and maimed among:
    God grant you find one face there,
    You loved when all was young.

  14. That was beautifully done, though I found it strange how slowly you recited the first few lines. On thinking about it afterwards I realized I tend to rush through those lines partly out of a fear of my children losing interest and turning away before I get to the next line, but slow probably does work better.

    As a child the poems I remembered most clearly were those that were encorporated into the Anne of Green Gables movie, and thus that I was exposed to young and had to look up as quickly as I could to hear the rest of.

  15. That was so much fun to watch! It has been such a long time that I’ve watched someone recite poetry outside of the theatre. We used to have poetry recitals in school and I still remember reciting Sick by Shel Silverstein. I am so glad that you linked this into the Kid Lit Blog Hop and I’ve tweeted about it to my followers!

    Have a wonderful week Renee! 🙂

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