Note to Congress: Beware the Jabberwock

The Jabberwocky--Can we defend ourselves?

From all sides, or at least from the right and left, comes advice to congress on how to solve the so-called national budget crisis. Amidst the advice are a smattering of dire warnings. Rather than add to or further agitate that stew let me suggest that the legislators read a bit of calming poetry—from the other shore of the great Atlantic Ocean, a warning:

“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
From: Jabberwocky, a poem by Lewis Carroll

Lewis Carroll published these cautionary words in 1872. Never mind that this nonsense poem was written for children; these poignant words should affect the emotions of our legislators if not their reason and sensibilities.

It seems to me that the constructors of our national budget are overly challenged by the arithmetic. Carroll has something witty to say about that too:

“Taking Three as the subject to reason about —
A convenient number to state —
We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

“The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
By Nine Hundred and Ninety Two:
Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
Exactly and perfectly true.

From: The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits by Lewis Carroll.

The result of this exercise, as we all know, was zero and obviously that is the key to a “balanced budget”.

It is nice to have a library to fall back on in times of stress. My copies of Alice and Through the Looking Glass are the very fine 1977 editions by St. Martin’s Press with color illustrations by Sir John Tenniel. I bought them new and still browse through them from time-to-time.

But, perhaps our legislators are more for listening than reading:  The Hunting of the Snark, a musical by Mike Blatt is available on DVD and a new CD will be released in July, 2011.

And, for those wanting “just a taste” of Lewis Carroll’s humor, try the YouTube version:

The Epub version of The Hunting of the Snark: an Agony in Eight Fits is available on-line at the Electronic Text Center of the University of Virginia Library.


Day 57: Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) (1871, St. Martin’s Press ed. 1977).

About carto

Retired software engineer who grew up in Montana, went to Montana State College in Bozeman, and moved to California to work at Stanford Research Institute (SRI). Carto's Logbook is about photography, travel and adventure; Mt. Maurice Times is tall tales mostly biographical; Carto's Library is about books I've read and liked.
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