Fit the First
The years had passed by and many a mile,
And the Bellman was grayer and older.
And now he wore specs and had a bad knee,
And a parrot that slept on his shoulder.
He was known as the man who had hunted the Snark,
Though he'd never quite seen one himself.
He stayed in his room until it got dark,
And kept his memories high on a shelf.
He sat by the fire every night until ten,
And pored over old maps and books,
And sometimes played chess though he’d lost all the men
Except for a couple of rooks.
He listened to music with an ear horn so quaint
It was spoken of all over town,
But the high tinkling notes so enchanted his mind
He could not put the instrument down.
He thought of the days when he’d sailed his fine ship
On the waves and the billowy sea,
And he thought of the Butcher and Beaver as well
As he drank his dark Ceylonese tea.
His comrades were gone, the Baker and Boots,
The Broker and Maker of Hoods,
The Billiard-marker, Banker and Barrister too,
With all of their Snark-catching goods.
He remembered their exploits and their derring-do,
Their feats that were told of for weeks,
The Jabberwock, Jub-jub and Bandersnatch too,
With their brillig and frumious beaks.
He wanted to go on a hunt once again
And capture a Snark for the zoo.
“I’ll do it,” he said, “I’ll bring one back home,
Or even quite possibly two.”
He bought a large map representing the world,
Which showed countries that nobody knew.
He folded it twice, then folded it thrice,
And sealed it with Ballentine glue.
"It can't be that hard," he said with a moan,
"I just need a good plan and I'll go."
He finished his tea and nibbled a scone
That was made from dense Cheltenham dough.
So a notice appeared in the papers next day,
In large print all purple and green,
Asking if any Snarks could be found,
Or if one had been recently seen.
It said that he needed a crew to go with,
A new band of brothers and bold,
A gaggle of fellows who weren’t scared of much
And cared not a whit for the cold.
He’d read all the stories of Snarks in the woods,
On mountains and over the seas,
Of how they liked capons if salted or smoked,
And especially thick porridge and pease.
He’d heard of a place way out in the wilds,
Where Snarks were supposed to exist,
A place lost to time that nobody knew,
'Neath a veil of perpetual mist.
It was not far from Oztlan, quite close to Old York,
Just down a dirt road from Pairu,
Past some tall crooked trees and over a hill
From what used to be called Timbuktu.
So he bought ten balloons to carry them there,
With large colored baskets beneath,
And he stood there with copious tears in his eyes,
Just blinking and picking his teeth.
It was said all around that the Bellman was mad,
That he had as much sense as his bird.
But one thing about him could not be denied:
He was truly a man of his word.
Fit the Second
On the very first day of the first week of the year,
On the very first hour of the day,
The Bellman declared, “There is nothing to fear.
We are all of us going away.”
“The time is at hand,” he announced with a smile,
“We are off to find Snarks as you know.
I have chosen you all and you’ll make a fine crew.
Now sign on the line and let’s go.”
A Cooper had come to apply for the job
Though he said he was frequently ill,
But a Cook took an interest and gave him at length
An oddly-shaped little green pill.
A Clergyman clamored to go with the crew,
Said he’d once seen a Snark when a lad.
“If I don’t get to go,” he said with a sob,
“I should be most unspeakably sad.”
“I was just a wee tyke out riding my bike,
When I saw up ahead a strange thing.
It had a large head and a nose that was red,
And was covered all over with string.”
“In one of its hands it was holding some soap,
In another a queer two-tined fork,
And a railway-share was clutched in its third,
And it jumped up and down like a stork.”
"I knew right away that it was a Snark,
Though I'd never observed one before.
On its back was a most unusual mark,
And it groaned several times, if not more."
A Cabinet maker had brought all his tools,
Fine drills, a large adze and a plane,
But some had become quite covered with rust
When he'd left them all out in the rain.
A Chemist came too who spoke not a lot,
For he knew only five or six words,
But his resume said he
had once owned a Tove,
Several Jub-jubs, and other strange birds.
There was also a Queen who had only one eye
And three fingers upon her left hand.
Her skin was as lumpy as Boston cream pie,
But at least it was evenly tanned.
This Queen had apparently never been seen
In her very small country of Zed,
But they knew her all over, from Axton to Dover,
And she ruled very well, it was said.
She wore silver bracelets and ninety-nine rings,
And a large golden crown on her head,
And she carried a case that was filled with fine things,
And a hamper of sweet-smelling bread.
She had with her taffeta, velvet and lace,
With crinoline, cambric and wool,
And a large chest of drawers from some far distant shores
That was almost alarmingly full.
She looked very regal as she walked with her beagle
Who had on one foot a silk glove,
And though she allowed that it wasn't quite legal
A white Amazonian dove.
Her arrival was timely and clearly auspicious,
(She had come all
the way from West Zed).
She brought with her wishes (and even some dishes)
From the people she said that she led.
A Cave diver came as they readied to sail,
And a Clown and a Castaway too,
And they boarded their craft and they nervously laughed,
At how much and how little they knew.
The balloons lifted off and drifted away,
In the general direction of west.
And the Bellman declared as the others all stared,
“I must say that it’s all for the best.”
Fit the Third:
The winds blew them on far over the Qon,
And villages passed well below,
And other great streams like the Minx and the Han,
And a mountain that looked like a toe.
They crossed a wide sea that was called the McFee,
And a desert much whiter than snow;
Great plains of green grass and lakes like spun glass,
That shone on a high flat plateau.
As word spread of their quest, people watched them fly by,
And waved handkerchiefs, dishclothes and rags,
And wherever they stopped they turned out in droves,
And gave them dried goods in large bags.
They stopped every day as April turned into May,
And the Bellman held forth upon Snarks.
From teepees and tents and huts made of hay,
They arrived to hear his remarks.
In large burgs and small, the people came all
Excited to learn about Snarks,
And they filled the town halls and some of the malls,
And even the green grassy parks.
Whether Uighers or Achangs or Buryats or Dutch,
Hausa, Herero or Hekh,
They clapped and they cheered
and they thanked him so much,
And draped floral wreaths round his neck.
He told them he wanted to capture a Snark,
And take it back home to the zoo,
And they promised to help if he'd only say how,
And deliver them some kind of clue.
He loudly opined, "There are Snarks up ahead,"
And he readied his Snark-catching tools;
He bade them eat cheese and he bade them eat bread,
And he told them his three foremost rules.
"The first is to never look right in its eye,
Lest you wish to be turned into stone.
You might offer it greens or perhaps a mince pie,
Or some cream ice that sits in a cone."
"And second, you mustn't greet it with a sigh -
Or any word with a harsh sound.
It's better to sing a nice child's lullaby,
Or recite a sad story you've found."
"The third and last thing is to offer it string" -
Here he sat with a nimulous frown.
"It will turn up its nose at a napkin ring,
A wescot or an old dressing gown."
He said once again, "There are Snarks right ahead,
I think I can see their dim glow.
Let's find them, let's hunt them, let's catch them," he said,
'Tis a mission we cannot forego."
But alas, there were none, and it wasn't much fun,
As the days turned to weeks without fail.
They scoured the land whether treed or of sand,
As they sailed over valley and dale.
The apples were gone and the bacon was too,
No parsley, no mustard, no eggs.
Of cheese there was only a small bit of bleu,
And of soup just the merest of dregs.
The Cook said, "Let's stop," and the others agreed,
For ahead of them high mountains loomed.
"We can all of us look for the things that we need,
For without them we're certainly doomed."
The Cabinet Maker floundered around
And issued a series of sighs -
Said he knew that the Cook had proposed a good plan,
was most unimpeachably wise.
The Carpenter went on a search for tooth paste,
While the Cooper sought all round for beans,
But the Clergyman sadly displayed no haste
In aquiring a supply of good greens.
The Cave Diver found in a hole in the ground
A large pile of pretty blue stones,
But the Cook with a frown said they're just as much use
As a pile of old Bandersnatch bones.
The Castaway told them a story
Of an island where Snarks could be seen,
And he said they were partial to octopus stew,
And for flounder were also quite keen.
The Clown rubbed his nose and sang a drear song
While he searched all over for suet,
And the Queen
kept saying, "The day is too long.
We must leave or we'll possibly rue it."
So the balloons lifted off and drifted away,
And the Bellman sat down on his case,
And the parrot excitedly jumped up and down,
And pecked at the hairs on his face.
Fit the Fourth:
One day as they sailed over mountain and peak,
A Jub-jub flew madd'ningly near,
With its red, spungious eyes and frungible beak,
And its single abstrumious ear.
It brought six of its cousins - they trailed in its wake,
And they squawked a loud squawk as they flew.
There followed a horde that gave them all quite a fright,
Brothers, sisters and grandmothers too.
The first of the flock called out to the rest,
And they turned in midflight
and they stared,
At the ten great balloons that were heading due west,
And they came just as close as they dared.
The Bellman cried, "Shoo!" and away they all flew,
Except for one slithy old foe,
Who grabbed with his claws a balloon's yellow gauze,
And bit the Cook on his big toe.
Then the others came back and they circled around,
While the Bellman said, "This isn't right."
He blew on his horn and flung kernels of corn,
Which he knew wasn't very polite.
The Cabinet-maker silently sobbed,
And the Chemist said, "What shall we do?"
The Clown cried, "Descend! - the Castaway "Rise!"
And the Queen said, "I haven't a clue."
She sadly remembered a tale from her past,
From when she was awfully young,
When her father, the King, had his nose in a cast,
And her mother had only one lung.
She thought of that day when the sky went quite dark
In her very small country of Zed.
She'd been just a girl on a walk in the park,
Feeding ducks with some pieces of bread.
There came a loud screech, and another, and then
With a flutter of feathers they came.
The jub-jubs flew over again and again,
And nothing was ever the same.
The Bellman descended, he wasn’t sure how,
But the others all followed him down,
And a querulous look appeared on his brow,
And the Queen, bless her, dropped her fine crown.
A brown snaky river zig-zagged back and forth,
And the water looked pleasantly wet,
And it seemed to be going near west of due north
As the sun was beginning to set.
Into the water they splashed one two three,
While the Cooper hallood “We’ll all drown,”
But the Cave-diver chortled with obvious glee,
And said, “Let’s find a suitable town.”
They sailed down the river with hardly a care,
Singing songs that the Bellman well knew,
The baskets in water, balloons in the air,
Some pink and some shockingly blue.
They sailed down the river, the ten in a row -
The day was quite lovely but chill.
While odd-looking creatures with eyes all aglow
Watched them pass from on top of a hill.
There were Wheebs, a few Quemps, and a Smidget or two,
And a Borogove high in a tree.
There was even a Bandersnatch jumping around,
And a Wullawaw down on one knee.
There were no towns around so they rose up again,
And floated along in the breeze.
The Clergyman wrote on his hand with a pen,
And the Carpenter stifled a sneeze.
So they called it a day as the Cook tried to say,
“I’d like to go home before long.”
But the Bellman demurred which they all of them heard
Saying that would be utterly wrong.
Fit the Fifth:
The Clergyman's Story
One night while they camped by the light of the moon,
The Clergyman attempted to say
A fine Kentish prayer that was uffish and fair,
Which offered hope for the following day.
“We’ve flown over mountains, we’ve flown over dunes,
We have crossed a wide billowy ocean.
We have passed by North Flinders and Kalamazoo,
And even the townland of Goshen.”
The Bellman declared in his best Bellman voice,
“What’s the point, my fine Kentish fellow?”
And the Clergyman sighed as he lay on his side,
“I wish I were not quite so mellow.”
“The thought of the Snark quite upsets me, you know,
And it has ever since I was young.
The thought of that thing all covered in string,
With its one indisputable lung.”
[Verse to be placed in a subsequent fit:
A businessman there with almost no hair
Tried to sell them a cheap plot of land,
But with sharp cries of “No!” the Bellman said "Go!"
When he saw it consisted of sand.]