How Doth the Little Crocodile

Original Text: 
Lewis Carroll, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1866): 20-21. [First American edition.] Brabant Carroll Collection C37 A44 1866 Fisher Rare Book Library.
"I'll try and say 'How doth the little -- '" and she crossed her hands on her lap, as if she were saying lessons, and began to repeat it, but her voice sounded hoarse and strange, and the words did not come the same as they used to do: --
2  Improve his shining tail,
3And pour the waters of the Nile
4  On every golden scale!
5How cheerfully he seems to grin,
6  How neatly spreads his claws,
7And welcomes little fishes in
8  With gently smiling jaws!"
"I'm sure those are not the right words," said poor Alice, and her eyes filled with tears again ...


1] A parody of Isaac Watt's "Against Idleness and Mischief" (1715), one of the most popular moral poems that parents and teachers have served up to children. Alice is right: she does not hear the "right words." Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.