Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

With the prolapse a little less livid, I’m able to sit still long enough to do something I’ve always wanted to do.

Don’t worry, you can open your eyes.

Take a deep breath.

It’s an OCD’d glossary bringing together the Looking-glass book containing Jabberwocky that Alice finds when with that wacko the White Knight, and the compelling definitions of the words in the first verse of the same poem given later on by that cocky fancy-pants Humpty Dumpty. (I think he was pushed.)

The full poem and Mr Dumpty’s pontifications are about 70 pages apart.

You feeling it, too? Bit of a buzz, huh? Who needs tequila.

I’ve put Humpty Dumpty’s explanations for the wonderful oojahs in comments and laid them over the first verse and taken a screenshot. I’ve also done a transcript of this image at the end of this post in case the screenshot’s crap on a mobile. Must get out more.

Wallow in this.

‘You seem very clever at explaining words. Sir,’ said Alice. ‘Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called “Jabberwocky”‘?

‘Let’s hear it,’ said Humpty Dumpty. ‘I can explain all the poems that were ever invented – and a good many that haven’t been invented yet.’ [Git.]

This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated the first verse:


Peachy, eh? Not easily done. In straightjacket with a pen in my mouth.

Thanks for being here.

[Illustration by John Tenniel]

Through The Looking-Glass by Lewis Carroll (1871)

Buy Through The Looking-Glass (free delivery, cardboard wrapping)

Follow my Book Bore blog on style in writing:

[Transcript of above screenshot:]


‘Twas brillig [‘“Brillig” means four o’clock in the afternoon – the time when you begin broilingthings for dinner.’], and the slithy [‘Well, “slithy” means “lithe and slimy”. “Lithe” is the same as “active”. You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word.’] toves [‘Well, “toves” are something like badgers – they’re something like lizards – and they’re something like corkscrews… also they make their nest under sun-dials – also they live on cheese.’]
Did gyre [‘To “gyre” is to go round and round like a gyroscope.’] and gimble [‘To “gimble” is to make holes like a gimblet.’] in the wabe [In reply to Alice’s ‘And “the wabe” is the grass-plot round a sun-dial, I suppose?’] “Of course it is. It’s called “wabe” you know, because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it.’];
All mimsy [‘Well then, “mimsy” is “flimsy and miserable” (there’s another portmanteau for you).’] were the borogoves [‘And a “borogrove” is a thin shabby-looking bird with its feathers sticking out all round – something like a live mop.’],
And the mome raths [‘Well, a “rath” is a sort of green pig: but “mome” I’m not certain about. I think it’s short for “from home” – meaning they’ve lost their way, you know.’] outgrabe [‘Well, “outgribing” is something between bellowing and whistling, with a kind of sneeze in the middle…’].

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Guy Nicholls

Freelance copywriter – writing compelling copy to sell, explain or entertain.

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