Alice in WonderlandYesterday I came across Lewis Carroll’s “Jabberwocky” poem in Alice in Wonderland (you can download the whole book for free at Gutenberg).

I’ve always loved how Carroll made nonsense words sound like language. But what got me this time around was Alice’s response, and the parallel of that with how I feel about “talking” to Mom.

JABBERWOCKY

‘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.

To which Alice responds:

‘It seems very pretty,’ she said when she had finished it, ‘but it’s RATHER hard to understand!’ (You see she didn’t like to confess, ever to herself, that she couldn’t make it out at all.) ‘Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas—only I don’t exactly know what they are! However, SOMEBODY killed SOMETHING: that’s clear, at any rate—’

A lot like talking to Mom. Except that what’s clear here at home–no matter the gibberish–is that SOMEBODY LOVES SOMEBODY.

‘Twas mumfled, and the marmy words,
Did slipper-glidy on the lips;
All plummy were the huggalurds,
And hearts did do the flips.

Shoot, even when one’s speech is precise, there’s a good amount of distortion that has to be overlooked anyway, so it’s really the meta-language that counts.

May you hear and speak LOVE this day!