The Walrus and the Carpenter

Original Text: 
Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Found There (London: Macmillan and Co., 1872): 72-79. Brabant Carroll Collection C37 T476 1872 copy 3. Fisher Rare Book Library.
2    Shining with all his might:
3He did his very best to make
4    The billows smooth and bright --
5And this was odd, because it was
6    The middle of the night.
7The moon was shining sulkily,
8    Because she thought the sun
9Had got no business to be there
10    After the day was done --
11"It's very rude of him," she said,
12    "To come and spoil the fun."
13The sea was wet as wet could be,
14    The sands were dry as dry.
15You could not see a cloud, because
16    No cloud was in the sky:
17No birds were flying overhead --
18    There were no birds to fly.
19The Walrus and the Carpenter
20    Were walking close at hand;
21They wept like anything to see
22    Such quantities of sand:
23`If this were only cleared away,'
24    They said, `it would be grand!'
25`If seven maids with seven mops
26    Swept it for half a year,
27Do you suppose,' the Walrus said,
28    `That they could get it clear?'
29`I doubt it,' said the Carpenter,
30    And shed a bitter tear.
31`O Oysters, come and walk with us!'
32    The Walrus did beseech.
33`A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
34    Along the briny beach:
35We cannot do with more than four,
36    To give a hand to each.'
37The eldest Oyster looked at him,
38    But never a word he said:
39The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
40    And shook his heavy head --
41Meaning to say he did not choose
42    To leave the oyster-bed.
43But four young Oysters hurried up,
44    All eager for the treat:
45Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
46    Their shoes were clean and neat --
47And this was odd, because, you know,
48    They hadn't any feet.
49Four other Oysters followed them,
50    And yet another four;
51And thick and fast they came at last,
52    And more, and more, and more --
53All hopping through the frothy waves,
54    And scrambling to the shore.
55The Walrus and the Carpenter
56    Walked on a mile or so,
57And then they rested on a rock
58    Conveniently low:
59And all the little Oysters stood
60    And waited in a row.
61`The time has come,' the Walrus said,
62    `To talk of many things:
63Of shoes -- and ships -- and sealing-wax --
64    Of cabbages -- and kings --
65And why the sea is boiling hot --
66    And whether pigs have wings.'
67`But wait a bit,' the Oysters cried,
68    `Before we have our chat;
69For some of us are out of breath,
70    And all of us are fat!'
71`No hurry!' said the Carpenter.
72    They thanked him much for that.
73`A loaf of bread,' the Walrus said,
74    `Is what we chiefly need:
75Pepper and vinegar besides
76    Are very good indeed --
77Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
78    We can begin to feed.'
79`But not on us!' the Oysters cried,
80    Turning a little blue.
81`After such kindness, that would be
82    A dismal thing to do!'
83`The night is fine,' the Walrus said.
84    `Do you admire the view?
85`It was so kind of you to come!
86    And you are very nice!'
87The Carpenter said nothing but
88    `Cut us another slice:
89I wish you were not quite so deaf --
90    I've had to ask you twice!'
91`It seems a shame,' the Walrus said,
92    `To play them such a trick,
93After we've brought them out so far,
94    And made them trot so quick!'
95The Carpenter said nothing but
96    `The butter's spread too thick!'
97`I weep for you,' the Walrus said:
98    `I deeply sympathize.'
99With sobs and tears he sorted out
100    Those of the largest size,
101Holding his pocket-handkerchief
102    Before his streaming eyes.
103`O Oysters,' said the Carpenter,
104    `You've had a pleasant run!
105Shall we be trotting home again?'
106    But answer came there none --
107And this was scarcely odd, because
108    They'd eaten every one."


1] The poem is rendered in the original in italics (not displayed here).
Arthur Clement Hilton parodies this poem in The Vulture and the Husbandman. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1998.