Sunday, January 21, 2007

A Poem to Start the Week: Oh, Frabjous Day!

"Mr. Shaw! Do you remember me?!"

It happens often -- in the mall, Circuit City, Home Depot, at Kroger. I don't know the fellow shopper/sports fan/fair goer from Adam (or Eve). I've finally reached the point in life that I usually just fess up: "You look mighty familiar -- remind me of your name."

I taught him or her twenty or ten or thirty years ago. We catch up for a minute or two and then she asks: "What was that great book you read about those runaway kids?" (The Lion's Paw by Robb White) or "Can you still recite 'Jabberwocky'?" (by Lewis Carroll).

I love it. They may not remember the lessons but they remember The Lion's Paw and "Jabberwocky".

As most of my regular readers know, I teach nine and ten year old children in public school. My primary duties right now are in science and social studies, but there are a few things too near my heart to ignore, even if I have to stretch things a bit to fit them into my curriculum. I love children's literature and squeeze some oral reading out of homeroom time every day. I've written about some of my favorites among children's books before, here, here, here, and here.

I also love plain ol' storytelling and I do a lot of that. A while back the silent Burton (He really ought to try a post) videoed several of my stories for a DVD we called "Of Beamish Boys and Foolish Frogs". Maybe we'll get around to marketing it one of these days.

Another area of special interest to me is poetry. You can read some of my own efforts at poetry here. I also have a cache of poems that I always recite for my fourth graders during the year - Nash, Millay, Frost, Silverstein, Ciardi, Hughes, and, of course, Carroll.

I discovered a wonderful blog dedicated to Poetry for Children, and it inspired me to want to post an occasional favorite poem here on the Limb.

Here's my all-time favorite poem to recite for children. You'll find it in lots of anthologies intended for us older folk as well. It's nonsense and anything but. Several of Lewis Carroll's portmanteaux from this poem -- chortle, galumphing, burbled, whiffling -- have found their way into Webster's during the last century and a quarter.

You're sitting there at your computer, all alone? Read it aloud! It'll be a lot more fun. Come on, loosen up!! Don't hold back. It'll do you good. A kid in the vicinity? Call 'em in. You'll be glad you did.

(Added 1-03-08: Hear my podcast of Jabberwocky here.)


by Lewis Carroll

`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.

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