The Walrus and The Carpenter

Lewis Carroll

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walrus 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright--
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done--
"It's very rude of him," she said,
"To come and spoil the fun!"

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead--
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
"If this were only cleared away,"
They said, "it would be grand!"

"If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year.
Do you suppose," the Walrus said,
"That they could get it clear?"
"I doubt it," said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

"O Oysters, come and walk with us!"
The Walrus did beseech.
"A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each."

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head--
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat--
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn't any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more--
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes--and ships--and sealing-wax--
Of cabbages--and kings--
And why the sea is boiling hot--
And whether pigs have wings."

"But wait a bit," the Oysters cried,
"Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!"
"No hurry!" said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

"A loaf of bread," the Walrus said,
"Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed--
Now if you're ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed."

"But not on us!" the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
"After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!"
"The night is fine," the Walrus said.
"Do you admire the view?

"It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf--
I've had to ask you twice!"

"It seems a shame," the Walrus said,
"To play them such a trick,
After we've brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!"
The Carpenter said nothing but
"The butter's spread too thick!"

"I weep for you," the Walrus said:
"I deeply sympathize."
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

"O Oysters," said the Carpenter,
"You've had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?'
But answer came there none--
And this was scarcely odd, because
They'd eaten every one.

Walrus 2
 
Walrus3
While Carroll never actually wrote any version of the poem with any other character than the carpenter, he did add an alternate ending to the poem for an operetta of Alice in Wonderland.  In the alternate ending, the ghosts of the oysters proceed to jump up and down on the chests of the Walrus and the Carpenter, thereby giving them heartburn. He added this ending because he was convinced that theatrical life could be physically, intellectually, and morally strengthening to children, making him feel he had to somehow punish the Walrus and the Carpenter. For those of you who are interested, here is the alternate ending, just tacked on to the ending we all know.

The Carpenter he ceased to sob;
The Walrus ceased to weep;
They'd finished all the oysters;
And they laid them down to sleep--
And of their craft and cruelty
The punishment to reap.

The Carpenter is sleeping, the butter's
on his face,
The vinegar and pepper are all about
the place!
Let oysters rock your cradle and hull
you into rest;
And if that will not do it, we'll sit
upon your chest!

(the ghost of the first oyster sings)

We'll sit upon your chest!  We'll sit
upon your chest!
The simplest way to do it is to sit
upon your chest!

(the ghost of the second oyster sings)

O woeful, weeping Walrus, your
tears are all a sham!
You're greedier for Oysters than
children are for jam.
You like to have an Oyster to give
a meal a zest--
Excuse me, wicked Walrus,
for stamping on your chest!
For stamping on your chest!
For stamping on your chest!
Excuse me, wicked Walrus,
For stamping on your chest!