Lovely animated rendition of the poem "Jabberwocky"

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/10/09/lovely-animated-rendition-of-the-poem-jabberwocky.html

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MASSIVE PEDANTRY INCOMING

'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe

The film gets the pronunciation of “gyre” wrong: it should be pronounced with a soft “g”, like “gyroscope”, to which it’s related. Yes, it’s a real word, meaning “to turn or whirl around”. It also shows up, in its noun form, in the first line of Yeats’ “The Second Coming”:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer

Here it is read by Yeats himself (in a somewhat Uncanny Valley animation):

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Excellent! The world needs more poetry these days, nonsensical and otherwise.

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I am glad to see they do get the sudden ‘flash of darkness’ as the poem passes the centre point. But the Jabberwock should look like this…

This is as drawn by John Tenniel (later Sir John) who actually saw one. No, that last bit isn’t true, but it ought to be.

There are also descriptions in the book of some of the other words. Toves are curious creatures that are something like badgers, something like lizards, and something like corkscrews. They make their nests under sun-dials and live on cheese.

Again, John Tenniel has done his research…

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I think we can make an exception for the “gyre” in Jabberwocky, because pronouncing it with a hard G simply sounds so much better than a soft one. The gorgeous, chewy alliteration in that line is completely spoiled if you opt for a soft G.
The whole poem is just full of phrases like that, that roll over the audience’s ears like waves of honey, and give you a full vocal workout just by enunciating each line.

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Looks heavily influenced by one of my favorite artists: Ralph Steadman.

Good job!

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You’re assuming that “gimble” should be pronounced with a hard G. I don’t know whether Carroll invented the word, but it’s worth noting that the possibly related “gimbal”, although usually pronounced with a hard G these days, originally took a soft G.

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To help remember this, I always just pronounce it using the same sound as a G in “gif”

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ya, hard G for me … I remember having this argument with a friend over forty years ago…just sounds better. I did a sample of several other YouTube performances, they all agree on the G. However, @SheiffFatman seems authoritative, so maybe we should just whip out that poetic license :slight_smile:

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I’m definitely in the “soft G” camp with “gyre”, despite being firmly “hard G” when it comes to GIF.

I live in Guildford, UK, where Reverend Dodgson is buried (he was a regular visitor to the house where his 6 sisters resided, and also preached at St Marys Church). The Guildford Castle grounds had a lovely tribute to Tenniel this summer to mark what would have been his 200th birthday:

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I could be talking out of my butt here, but I thought Jabberwocky is where the word “gyre” is first used in English (at least as a verb). I’m certain that “chortle” originated there.

Years ago, when I first memorized the poem, I had a book where Lewis Carroll described how to pronounce many of the words. I no longer remember if I’m pronouncing them as he suggested, but I did always interpret the line “He chortled in his joy” to not be a standalone statement, as it is in this animation, but to be describing how the previous lines were said (kind of like “He said in his joy,” with chortled replacing said). You can hear what I mean in my rendition here:

Edit: I definitely mispronounced frabjous - that was just a slip o’ the tongue

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I memorized that poem back in high school. Soft g for gyre and hard g for gimble was how I learned it, but it seems to lose alliteration if they are different.
I remember seeing the movie by Terry Gilliam (with a couple of other Pythons in it). It was no blockbuster, but it was amusing.

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I avoided this issue by performing the poem in sign language for my final. An epic production that lasted more than 20 minutes. The professor was out sick that day and his assistant was simply there to video our efforts for him to watch later at home. The assistant lacked the authority (or force of will) to make me cut it short.

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Shorter OED says it’s Middle English, from Late Latin gyrare. Doesn’t give a dated citation, though.

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It’s a bit eerie how much T.S. Eliot and Yeats sound alike in these readings of their respective work:

Was this just the nature of the way poets recited their work or the nature of the recording medium?

It sounds like an old British school teacher reciting to a class in an echoey wooden boarding school classroom.

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Gosh. I used to work in Guildford ages ago and I never new this. If I ever go back I will have to find them. Thanks.

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Yes, lots of little references and tributes to Carroll around the place. My son used to practice reading on the sign of the Alice Looking Glass statue in the castle grounds.

Even the social distancing signs have been inspired:

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Ah, I remember when I finally learned where the word “vorpal” came from. Thanks, Jabberwocky!

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