Children’s Hour – Lewis Carroll

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Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) formed the classical and now beloved story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland when he was boating with three little girls, sisters, whose names were Lorina, Edith, and Alice Liddell. Their father was good friends with Lewis Carroll, and Lewis Carroll would take Mr. Liddell’s daughters boating and tell them snippets of nonsensical tales about a girl having all sorts of queer adventures. His introductory poem to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland tells the story of him boating out with these three girls, though he changed their names in the story. Picture the mathematician out for a jaunt on the river telling stories to these girls as you read the below poem:

All in the golden afternoon
Full leisurely we glide;
For both our oars, with little skill,
By little arms are plied,
While little hands make vain pretence
Our wanderings to guide.

Ah, cruel Three! In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale of breath too weak
To stir the tiniest feather!
Yet what can one poor voice avail
Against three tongues together?

Imperious Prima flashes forth
Her edict ‘to begin it’-
In gentler tone Secunda hopes
‘There will be nonsense in it!’-
While Tertia interrupts the tale
Not more than once a minute.

Anon, to sudden silence won,
In fancy they pursue
The dream-child moving through a land
Of wonders wild and new,
In friendly chat with bird or beast-
And half believe it true.

And ever, as the story drained
The wells of fancy dry,
And faintly strove that weary one
To put the subject by,
‘The rest next time-‘ ‘It is next time!’
The happy voices cry.

Thus grew the tale of Wonderland:
Thus slowly, one by one,
Its quaint events were hammered out-
And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.

Alice! a childish story take,
And with a gentle hand
Lay it where Childhood’s dreams are twined
In Memory’s mystic band,
Like pilgrim’s wither’d wreath of flowers
Pluck’d in a far-off land.
~Lewis Carroll – introduction to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

 

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