You Know That Poem That The Cheshire Cat Recites In Alice In Wonderland? What Does It Mean?


5 Answers

helen baillie-gutteridge Profile
Jabberwocky was a tale of derringdo.
My Grandfather had to depict the first verse in a game of charades one Christmas. Nearly did himself in, all that gyring and gimbling before someone got it!
Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
T'was brillig, and the slithy toves
did gyre and gimble in the wabe.
All mimsy were the borogroves
And the mome raths outgrabe.

-- would that be it?  In the Disney version of the Alice film the Cheshire cat sings a few verses of this.

It is complete and utter nonsense -- it's a few lines from the poem Jabberwocky, written by Lewis Carroll, but not actually in the text of the book.  Inclusion of this in the movie was just a kind of homage to him.

The poem simply has no meaning; it was meant to be nonsense and silly.  Read more about the history and study and fans of the entire poem (reprinted in its entirety).
thanked the writer.
Diana Ruiz
Diana Ruiz commented
Cool. But too bad that it was just pure nonsense i thought it would have some hidden meaning.
Brandon DuGrey Profile
Brandon DuGrey answered
The Cheshire Cat narrates an entire poem in the book 'Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland'. Google this title and you'll find a bunch links to quotes and illustrations. Best Wonderland book since the original (the sequel to 'The Walrus & the Carpenter', entitled 'The Walrus & the Carpenter Head Back', is absolutely astounding ;-)
Julii Brainard Profile
Julii Brainard answered
The text of Alice in Wonderland is to be found several places online (she meets it in Chapter 6 for example, and again in Chapter 8), and I can't find an entry where the Cheshire cat recites any poems.  (Sorry, redirect me?)  There is some verse by the Duchesss, just before Alice meets the Cheshire cat the first time.

Most of the verses in Alice were parodies of children's rhymes and poems that were then popular.  The book was first written in 1865 -- before TV, before grammaphones or radio or recordings --  when the only entertainment was live music and verbal.  It was a culture where things were either spoken or maybe written down (lots of people were still illiterate, too).  So everybody, even children, knew many more rhymes, stories and pieces of poetry -- arguably we know as much about TV characters and the lives of celebrities, today.

Many if not most children in 1865 would have recognised the poems being parodied, or that the lines of poetry were little better than amusing nonsense, just like the characters that uttered the words.
thanked the writer.
Diana Ruiz
Diana Ruiz commented
oh you know when shes lost in the forest and she first meets him, he sings a song of some sort.
Anonymous Profile
Anonymous answered
I found it funny,because I was reading the poem and when I got to the "and the mome raths outgrabe" part I said lt like the Cheshire cat...and I went oh my god! I know this it's from Alice in Wonderland haha.

Several of the words in the poem are nonce words of Carroll's own invention.In later writings, Lewis Carroll explained several of the others. The rest of the nonsense words were never explicitly defined by Carroll, who claimed that he did not know what some of them meant. An extended analysis of the poem is given in the book The Annotated Alice, including writings from Carroll about how he formed some of his idiosyncratic words.

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