J is for Jabberwocky

This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

The scariest poem I ever read as a child was Jabberwocky, found in Lewis Carroll’s classic sequel, Alice Through the Looking Glass.  I was so terrified of the Jabberwock, and yet, night after night, I would pull my covers to my chin and read those terrifying words by flashlight:

‘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 a while 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!
Oh 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.

The words were so nonsensical.  I had no idea of their meaning, but for many nights, as I drifted off to sleep, the horrible monster with fiery eyes would enter my room!  Alas!  I would stand on my bed, a stick from the yard in my hand, my sheet tied to my neck like a cloak, and I would slay the Jabberwock with my ‘vorpal blade’ and galumph back to my bed.

I was seven years old.  The poem stuck with me the rest of my life.

In 1971, Donovan put the words to music and I had my own copy.

I never thought anyone could come close to competing with his version until a few months ago when I stumbled upon this version by an unknown woman with a beautiful celtic voice that makes the song come alive:

I don’t know which version I like more. Which one do you like?


Don’t forget to check out the incomparable Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. His version of the poem is not correct or complete, but he plays the part so darn well!

9 thoughts on “J is for Jabberwocky

  1. What clever writing! I honestly don’t think I have ever read this, but I want to. You are right in that it is most definitely nonsensical; however something in the lacking of sense makes perfect reason look like insanity; make sense? Lol.

    I wasn’t too much a fan of the new version of Alice in Wonderland. Don’t get me wrong, anything Johnny Depp is affiliated with is bound to be wonderfully bizarre and enjoyable on many levels, but I thought the plot sort of tanked when they put their own spin on things. For me, I think I prefer the original.

    Enjoying your A-Z’s, Jenny!



    1. Thanks, Cara. I, too, prefer the classic version over Tim Burton’s, but there is something immensely likable about it, too. He is such a weird character, Mr. Burton.


  2. It’s something that’s stuck with me too, though thankfully I don’t remember having nightmares! Those nonsense words are catchy aren’t they?

    Hmm, I’m not sure which version is better either!


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