The Jabberwocky, by Lewis Carroll is a poem of warning. Perhaps there is an irony in it for us today, with our suspicions of the sort of person Carroll may have been. But, it is still a lovely, lively nonsense.
For some reason, I read this poem as boy hero against an adult female monster, perhaps because that is the approach to the poem that a teacher of mine took some ancient days ago. Perhaps because of my own darknesses? Perhaps because I had a first grade teacher (female) who might be classed as a real Jabberwock if every there was one. I don’t know why I am comfortable with reading it that way.
I remember when it first started to be noised about that Carroll, himself, was perhaps one that children needed to be warned about. I thought of this poem then and its young hero confronting an adult antagonist, and the poem took on a dark richness. Was Carroll projecting, perhaps, his own (hopefully repressed) monstrousness? Was he attempting to warn the world something he knew all too intimately–that there is a predator always among us. And further warning that the lone child, for all his/her romantic need to overcome, does not have the sufficiency? The last verse, after all, does not suggest that the boy’s vanquishing of the jabberwocky is permanent.
It is one of the poems I have attempted to memorize and whose lines come to me quickly and spontaneously.