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Observations placeholder

Through the Looking Glass - Ch 08 - 7 "HADDOCKS' EYES."



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Alice though the Looking Glass – Lewis Carroll

The name of the song is called "HADDOCKS' EYES."'

'Oh, that's the name of the song, is it?' Alice said, trying to feel interested.

'No, you don't understand,' the Knight said, looking a little vexed. 'That's what the name is CALLED. The name really IS "THE AGED AGED MAN."'

'Then I ought to have said "That's what the SONG is called"?' Alice corrected herself.

'No, you oughtn't: that's quite another thing! The SONG is called "WAYS AND MEANS": but that's only what it's CALLED, you know!'

 'Well, what IS the song, then?' said Alice, who was by this time completely bewildered.

 'I was coming to that,' the Knight said. 'The song really IS "A-SITTING ON A GATE": and the tune's my own invention.'

So saying, he stopped his horse and let the reins fall on its neck: then, slowly beating time with one hand, and with a faint smile lighting up his gentle foolish face, as if he enjoyed the music of his song, he began.

Of all the strange things that Alice saw in her journey Through The Looking-Glass, this was the one that she always remembered most clearly. Years afterwards she could bring the whole scene back again, as if it had been only yesterday--the mild blue eyes and kindly smile of the

Knight--the setting sun gleaming through his hair, and shining on his armour in a blaze of light that quite dazzled her--the horse quietly moving about, with the reins hanging loose on his neck, cropping the grass at her feet--and the black shadows of the forest behind--all this she took in like a picture, as, with one hand shading her eyes, she leant against a tree, watching the strange pair, and listening, in a half dream, to the melancholy music of the song.

'But the tune ISN'T his own invention,' she said to herself: 'it's "I GIVE THEE ALL, I CAN NO MORE."' She stood and listened very attentively, but no tears came into her eyes.

     'I'll tell thee everything I can;
      There's little to relate.
     I saw an aged aged man,
      A-sitting on a gate.
     "Who are you, aged man?" I said,
      "and how is it you live?"
     And his answer trickled through my head
      Like water through a sieve.

     He said "I look for butterflies
      That sleep among the wheat:
     I make them into mutton-pies,
      And sell them in the street.
     I sell them unto men," he said,
      "Who sail on stormy seas;
     And that's the way I get my bread--
      A trifle, if you please."

     But I was thinking of a plan
      To dye one's whiskers green,
     And always use so large a fan
      That they could not be seen.
     So, having no reply to give
      To what the old man said,
     I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
      And thumped him on the head.

     His accents mild took up the tale:
      He said "I go my ways,
     And when I find a mountain-rill,
      I set it in a blaze;
     And thence they make a stuff they call
      Rolands' Macassar Oil--
     Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
      They give me for my toil."

     But I was thinking of a way
      To feed oneself on batter,
     And so go on from day to day
      Getting a little fatter.
     I shook him well from side to side,
      Until his face was blue:
     "Come, tell me how you live," I cried,
      "And what it is you do!"

     He said "I hunt for haddocks' eyes
      Among the heather bright,
     And work them into waistcoat-buttons
      In the silent night.
     And these I do not sell for gold
      Or coin of silvery shine
     But for a copper halfpenny,
      And that will purchase nine.

     "I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
      Or set limed twigs for crabs;
     I sometimes search the grassy knolls
      For wheels of Hansom-cabs.
     And that's the way" (he gave a wink)
      "By which I get my wealth--
     And very gladly will I drink
      Your Honour's noble health."

     I heard him then, for I had just
      Completed my design
     To keep the Menai bridge from rust
      By boiling it in wine.
     I thanked him much for telling me
      The way he got his wealth,
     But chiefly for his wish that he
      Might drink my noble health.

     And now, if e'er by chance I put
      My fingers into glue
     Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
      Into a left-hand shoe,
     Or if I drop upon my toe
      A very heavy weight,
     I weep, for it reminds me so,
      Of that old man I used to know--
     Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
     Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
     Whose face was very like a crow,
     With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
     Who seemed distracted with his woe,
     Who rocked his body to and fro,
     And muttered mumblingly and low,
     As if his mouth were full of dough,
     Who snorted like a buffalo--
     That summer evening, long ago,
      A-sitting on a gate.'

The source of the experience

Carroll, Lewis

Concepts, symbols and science items




Science Items

Activities and commonsteps