a journey into Wonderland
|Study this poem (scroll down the page) – The Walrus and the Carpenter – give your own interpretation of it. Write a stanza using the same format – on any topic of choice - The rhyme scheme is ABCBDB (with B being the iambic trimeter)
I like this poem. I have enormous portions of it memorized (although I don't have the whole thing, and I don't necessarily have the bits in the same order that they're supposed to be) and I have to say, with all the time I've spent with this poem from the time I was very small, I have yet to come up with an interpretation for it. I know that the best parts are the nonsensical bits, and that I don't like the Walrus very much, although I'm not sure why. I think it's because he has more words and comes across as more hypocritical than the Carpenter—I'm not sure I even believe that the Carpenter can see and hear anything.
The point of the poem isn't the Oysters and their fate or the Walrus or the Carpenter. It's nonsense. Here I pause for a moment to clarify that nonsense when used as Lewis Carroll does is something quite specific. Anyone can string random words together and have it be called nonsense, but that doesn't mean that they are doing the thing that Carroll (or Dahl or Seuss or Lear to name a few of the preeminent purveyors of nonsense of the past) did. No, when Lewis Carroll wrote, any two consecutive sentences (or paragraphs) tracked as complete, grammatical, and following. Then, in the third paragraph (or sentence), (which tracked with the second) something would happen that shifted the meaning into a new place. And then each succeeding thought darted here and there anchored in believability until poor Alice didn't know which way she was standing and she was ready to believe the Cat when he told her that she was mad.
I think this is why this poem is set up in threes. Each stanza has three pairs of lines. The first two set up, the third is the punchline, the place that makes the first two funnier. There are eighteen stanzas. The first three set up the setting (and the pattern of contrariness that Tweedledum and Tweedledee have been using throughout this chapter). The second three introduces the characters: the Walrus and the Carpenter (who are on a too sandy beach which the Walrus wants to force maids to clean and the Carpenter gives more emotional response than anything else in the poem) and the Oysters, who the two chums invite for a walk.
The third trio of stanzas is especially interesting because it sets up the differences between the older oysters who will not move and the youngsters who are so eager to take that walk that they don't heed their elders, which is the kind of contrariness that exists in the young. And goes back to the Tweedle twins. The fourth trio brings the group to the end of their walk—a conveniently low table. At this point, the Walrus starts to lecture, as would be common when an older person brought out the young for a walk, somewhere, but his topics are patently nonsensical. And the oysters, who know that such a lecture would mean having to come up with a meaningful response (as Alice tries to do in the chapter after Tweedledee has finished the poem) and they're out of breath. The Carpenter tells them they won't have to make a response. In other words, we have an abortive lecture, a dialogue and a change from the accepted narrative into something different and nonsensical.
At this point, the fifth trio introduces the idea that the Walrus and the Carpenter are ready to eat with the implication that they will eat the oysters. Which, if the Elder Oysters knew this was going to happen does imply that they should have spoken up a bit more. The Walrus proceeds to dinner conversation (about the view and the weather) while the Carpenter is focused on his meal. In the final three stanzas, the Walrus starts making guilty noises and then sad noises, eating and sobbing at the same time (contrariness), while the Carpenter is still focused on the meal, until all the oysters have been eaten.
So, if I had to come up with a meaning for this poem, I would say it's about contrariness, which makes sense because the Tweedles recite it. And unmet expectations. And possibly not trusting strangers.
Ah, well. I still like it. It's funny.
And for my attempt (I have written in this format before: "a wedding disaster" and "WdC Celebration crosses to Wonderland" come to mind, but I'll try for something new). I call it "Bats at the Dance Party"
The stars were bright, the moon was out,
and bats were in the air,
they flitted frantically about—
to try and find elsewhere.
But all their echo-sight was lost
amid the techno blare.
word count: 784