Jabberwocky: A Poem of Descent

 

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When I was in high school, for an art class I chose the theme of the Jabberwock for an assignment using pointillism.  I composed a black-and-white pointillist image of a dragonlike creature matching Lewis Carroll’s description in the famous Jabberwocky poem.

As it took me several weeks to accomplish the image, I had time to reflect on the meaning of this poem. To me it is about the Outcast or  Outsider or Otherness itself: the Jabberwock “monster,” who had the misfortune of being regarded as a shadowy fiend by ignorant humans who had moved in to its own “tulgey wood.” Then also from the human perspective, there is a futility represented here: the futility of battling Jabberwocks is like that of Don Quixote tilting at windmills; there will always be yet another monstrous creature around the bend, if that is what you set out to encounter in your Descent! And yet, how might your Jabberwock be enlisted as a Friend, an Ally? Then may you tame, rather than slay, your “dragons”!

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Jabberwocky

BY LEWIS CARROLL (http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/171647)

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

      And the mome raths outgrabe.

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!

      The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!

Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun

      The frumious Bandersnatch!”

He took his vorpal sword in hand;

      Long time the manxome foe he sought—

So rested he by the Tumtum tree

      And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,

      The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,

Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,

      And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through

      The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!

He left it dead, and with its head

      He went galumphing back.

“And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?

      Come to my arms, my beamish boy!

O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!”

      He chortled in his joy.

’Twas brillig, and the slithy toves

      Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:

All mimsy were the borogoves,

      And the mome raths outgrabe.

Source: The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (1983)

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images from pixabay.com

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