Sunday, 7 September 2008

The story of the cow with the crumpled horn...

Many years ago Mum once made a comment about 'the cow with the crumpled horn' as though I should understand the reference. I asked what she was talking about. She explained that it came from a nursery rhyme and was surprised that I didn't know about it. Forever after I used to mock her for failing to educate me properly and the 'cow with the crumpled horn' became one of those family fun sayings whenever anyone claimed they hadn't been told something.

Yesterday I made a reference to Jabberwocky and Ian gave me a strange look. It turned out he had never heard of the Jabberwock. So I educated him by reciting it (after a brief refresher course). For those folk out there who, like Ian, had never heard of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwock, here is it's history....

by Lewis Carroll
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)

'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.

P.S. The Cow with the crumpled horn appeared in "The House that Jack Built"...

This is the farmer sowing the corn,
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog,
That worried the cat,
That killed the rat,
That ate the malt
That lay in the house that Jack built.

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