Jabberwock's Child


Cotton and Silk Embroidery on Denim

Cotton and Silk Embroidery on Denim, by Lydia Christiansen

Field Notes: 10/4/2016

I have spent many bedtime tuck-ins reciting Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky to my children. I don’t remember exactly when it started, but there came a point when I discovered I could use my voice to experiment with different perspectives on the words about fear, stereotyping, and how we can sometimes get tricked into celebrating both. 
I recently doodled this embroidery, and couldn’t resist the urge to write it a poem about my response to Jabberwocky. I don’t have any significant experience studying or writing poetry, but as a medium, I love it. Jabberwocky in particular reaches out to me with words unrestrained by familiarity, which opens the door to many possible meanings. Lewis Carroll has expressed a distortion on fear in this verse that I find grotesque and terribly heart wrenching, and I love him for it. I do hope my mind continues wandering these lines for many years to come. Here is the original text often thought of as "glorious nonsense". Tell me, which is the nonsense? (originally published in "Through the Looking Glass", 1871)

Jabberwocky
by Lewis Carroll
‘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.

Here is my response to Carroll's piece: 
 

Jabberwock’s Child
by Lydia Christiansen
A gentle beast, the Jabberwock's child, 
builds walls with fire and mud.
Gifts from a father lost to the sword
and fear of that thing with the name. 
Alone and aware, firing clay
Gives life to friends made by hand
Still the story spits and sputters hate
ringing Callooh! Callay!
warning little boys and girls of the
gruesome, droolling fangs, 
and terrible claws of the Jabberwock
who fashions things with clay. 

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