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The New and Late Poems of Lewis Carroll

Examines the difference between the early and late works of Lewis Carroll.

A Look into an Old and New Poem of Lewis Carroll

Words and poetry have been symbols of civilization ever since the times of ancient Mesopotamia. Literature has been used to straighten the lives of the misguided and to enrich the worlds of the unfortunate. It has also been used to strengthen the minds of children and prepare them with the mental tools they will need to survive adulthood. The writer that stands out the most in children?s literature is Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, also known as Lewis Carroll. Of course, Lewis Carroll did not always write books for children. In the time between the hand-printing of his family literary magazines and the creation of the inane nonsense of the ?Alice? series, Lewis Carroll?s words have evolved from the random threads of an amateur, into the masterpiece tapestry of a genius story weaver and friend of children.
Born in Daresbury, Cheshire on the 27 of January, 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson lectured on math at the Christ Church College in Oxford. An encounter with a young girl named Alice Liddell led to the publishing of his first children?s novel, Alice?s Adventures in Wonderland. The book became an instant hit and spawned an almost as popular sequel, Through the Looking-Glass. Most of Dodgson?s poems can be found in one of the two novels, along with hints as to the origin of Wonderland itself.
On a lazy Summer day, Dodgson took the three Liddell daughters on a relaxing boat ride. The idea of Wonderland was humble enough. Dodgson made up the story in order to, ??keep [the girls] from rocking the boat and annoying him? (Cohen vii). Dodgson recalled this moment in one of the last poems of Through the Looking-Glass, ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky.? Written in 1871, ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky? is considered one of Dodgson?s latest works. Reading through the poem, one feels as if Dodgson has finally found his poetic niche and gives thanks by tipping a metaphoric hat toward his young human catalyst. To further reinforce this feeling, one must notice ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky? is not a typical poem. Dodgson wrote this poem as an acrostic: The first letter of each line spells out ALICE PLEASANCE LIDDELL. And as anyone familiar with Dodgson knows, ?Alice Pleasance Liddell is the name of the real Alice?? (?A Boat?? para. 1), the youngest of the three girls riding with Dodgson on the Liddell family boat. The poem has the appropriate overall feeling of a monumental adventure coming to an end right where it began.
If a poem like ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky? signals the death of the storyteller?s career, what kind of poem signals the birth? As a child and young member of the Dodgson family, little Charles hand- published a series of short literary and poetic magazines. The magazines were full of short stories and brief poems to entertain his ten younger siblings. Included in one of these magazines Dodgson printed a poem entitled ?Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry.? Visibly the work of a new writer, ?Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry? had the air of an experimental piece of poetry thrown out in the wind for Dodgson to gauge the response of his critics. His family loved it and after he ??expanded and revised the spelling of his poem for inclusion in Looking-Glass [sic]? (Dean para. 2), the public loved it as well. Currently the first stanza of ?The Jabberwocky?, ?Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry? rose to become the most read Lewis Carroll poem in the world.
Through both ?Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry? and ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky? one can see the impact unintentional fame and experience had on Dodgson?s poetry. All in all, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson?s expert combination of charm, fantastic situations, and the, ??unique ability to manipulate language? (Dean para. 1) propel his pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, to the forefront of popular children?s literature and a template for future patrons of the genre.

Works Cited

? ?A Boat Beneath a Sunny Sky.?http://poetry.box.sk/newread.php?newsid=147

? Cohen, Morton N. ?Introduction: Lewis Carroll and the Alice Books.? Alice?s Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass. New York, New York. Bantam Books. October 1981.

? Dean, Cathy. ?The Jabberwocky.? Lewis Carroll E-Text Collection.http://home.earthlink.net/~ifdean/carroll/jabberwocky.html. November 13, 1997.

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