Competition | 8 October 2005

Brillig time

In Competition No. 2412 you were invited to supply a ‘jabberwocky’ poem beginning ‘’Twas brillig…’and containing new words of your own invention.

By ‘jabberwocky’, which was deliberately lower case, I meant no more than surreal. I wasn’t inviting you to follow Carroll’s monster-slaying scenario, or his metrical scheme, only to match his inventiveness with neologisms in a wacky poem. Many of you over-egged the cake, throwing in so many invented words that I had only a faint idea of what was going on: in ‘Jabberwocky’ it is clear enough, even if you have to guess the meaning of ‘tulgey’ or ‘gimble’. It is almost impossible to write an amusing ‘nonsense poem’ which is pure nonsense, though the 17th-century bishop Richard Corbett had a go. It’s odd that only two of Carroll’s inventions passed into common use — ‘chortle’ and ‘galumph’. I wish ‘frabjous’ had made it. If you want to make an easy fiver, bet someone they can’t complete the line, ‘All mimsy were the…’ Ten to one on they’ll say ‘borogroves’, and they would be wrong.

The prizewinners, printed below, take £30 each, except for Mike Morrison, who gets £35.

’Twas brillig, and the cryall sea
Persiffled to the drinkle beach,
Depositing valdrebs and trones,
A zumerful of each.

Valdrebs look dangerfully farn,
Their markle claws like oberlufts,
While trones are, on the other pord,
Adroke with fliegish tufts.

Alice, quite anxitudinous,
Thought, ‘Should I esculate or plend?’
Behind her sprock the franderbole,
Advising, ‘Leave this grend.

‘Valdrebs and trones are boderfish,
They’ll brale you with syllanthropy.’
‘Not me they won’t,’ Alice reguffed,
‘I’m impulent, you see.’
Mike Morrison

’Twas brillig, and the toney croves
Did smink and mandle in the flunk.
All freeby were the cheriloves,
And the dome maths outblunk.


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