You are on page 1of 6

Poetry Ms.

Kerman

Zara Hoffman 11/21/12 Dreaming of Wonderland “If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is because everything would be what it isn't.” ~Lewis Carroll

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as “Lewis Carroll,” is the author of the beloved Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel, Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. He also penned many poems. The three poems “Prologue” (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland), “Epilogue” (Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There), and “Dreamland” all emphasize the wonder of dreams as well as the harsh reality that everything eventually ends. When read in the aforementioned sequence, Carroll guides the reader through a dream from beginning to end. Over the course of the three poems, Lewis Carroll glorifies dreams, struggles when “waking up,” and finally concludes that even after the dream has ended, it always remains with you. The “Prologue” describes the origin of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: during a summer boat ride, at the request of Alice Pleasance Liddell and her two sisters, Lewis Carroll improvised a tale that became the literary classic. The poem summarizes the excursion; it begins with three children beseeching “one poor voice” (11) to entertain them, which leads to narration of an elaborate story about a girl named Alice. Lines 1-6 are dedicated to setting the scene of a very pleasant and peaceful journey. The first stanza determines the structure of seven sestets with the rhyme scheme ABCBDB, which restarts in each new stanza. Written in alternating lines of iambic trimeter and iambic tetrameter, the poem possesses an ethereal tone that lulls the reader into the dream of Wonderland. The second and third stanzas depict three children, presumably the Liddell daughters, and illustrate their three very distinct personalities. The alliteration and word choice in “Imperious Prima … her edict” (13-14) give the first persona an air of superiority. The softer syllables of

“gentler … Secunda” (15) create a relaxed. a concept revisited in Lewis Carroll's poem. Although Lewis Carroll observes the boat ride’s conclusion: “And home we steer. / Beneath the setting sun” (35-36). but Alice wakes up from only a hour-long nap. and “Childhood's dreams” (39). The distortion of time is a theme that runs throughout Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the whole novel takes place over many days. indicating Secunda’s calm demeanor. he describes a “dream-child moving through a land / Of wonders wild and new” (21-22). a merry crew. Despite the seven year gap between the two books. perfectly summarizing the story and its sequel. in the fourth stanza. A connection between the diction used in the poem and his invitation to the reader to enter into a world of fantasy is his repetition of the word dream: “dreamy weather” (8). It is not only the character Alice. The “far-off land” (42) is the sanctuary that the imagination creates. The fifth and sixth stanzas expand on Lewis Carroll’s narration of the story. the “Epilogue” of Through the Looking . “dream-child” (21). who may be described as the “dream-child” (21). is soothing enough to put someone to sleep as would a bedtime story. what happens when the dream ends. “Dreamland” (1882). His vague description leaves the reader curious about what transpires in Dreamland. “where Childhood's dreams are twined / … Pluck'd in a far-off land” (39-42). The poem's euphonious sound. established in the first stanza. the three girls have been so enthralled with Carroll's story that they seem to have lost all sense of time. similar to the erratic tapping of the White Rabbit’s foot. euphonious effect. still lost “in a far-off land” (42). and more importantly. The end of the poem leaves the audience with an image of the children entering a land similar to Wonderland. begins to tell the tale of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As Lewis Carroll begins the tale in the fourth sestet. but anyone who reads the story. In contrast. Eventually Lewis Carroll concedes to the children’s enthusiasm and. the alliteration in “Tertia [who] interrupts / Not more than once a minute” (17-18) creates the impression of the long list of rapid-fire questions Tertia is posing.

The first two stanzas are a highly condensed version of the boat ride described in the “Prologue. The “Epilogue” is written in seven tercets. Prologue) and “Alice moving under skies” (11). in that both of the poems describe a boat ride and three children listening to a dream-like story. she is no longer part of the present. Lewis Carroll describes Alice’s movement in both the “Prologue” and “Epilogue”: “The dream-child moving through a land” (21. while in the second stanza it is the reverse.” It is not until the third tercet that the “Epilogue” diverges from its predecessor and becomes more negative about the story coming to an end. The sixth stanza of the “Epilogue” elaborates on the idea of new audiences being .” His choice of the word “slain” in “Autumn frosts have slain July” (9) suggests that beyond his sadness exists strong resentment about his story ending. / … / Lovingly shall nestle near” (13-15) illustrates Carroll’s confidence that his story will be passed down through the generations.Glass strongly resembles the “Prologue” of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. becoming a literary classic. The story of Alice is now exclusively a memory. The assertion: “Children yet. expressing Carroll’s despair about his loss of a perfect moment in time: “Long has paled that sunny sky: / Echoes fade and memories die” (7-8). and near. The fourth stanza further expands on his thoughts about losing Alice.” (12) indicates that Lewis Carroll continues to be haunted his character and her story. ear. Although the rhyme scheme is the same as in the first stanza. BBB: in the fifth tercet. the last words of each line are hear. the tale to hear. The second tercet is about the original three children. the Liddell daughters. these two phrases further illustrate the resemblance between the two poems. The addition of “Never seen by waking eyes. but the fifth stanza describes future children who will eventually hear Lewis Carroll’s story of Alice. The fifth stanza is the inverse of the second with the same rhyme scheme. she is still prominently featured in his dreams. the mood is melancholic in contrast to the cheerful beginning of the “Epilogue.

Prologue). Perhaps Lewis Carroll is describing the human counterparts of his characters in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland: the White Knight. He elaborates on this idea of beautiful things dying in the third stanza of “Dreamland. He concludes the “Epilogue” with an allusion to the song. focusing more on the ruins of a memory than the creation of a story. Lewis Carroll’s poem. It more concretely contrasts the inevitability of death and the sanctity of dreams in the imagination. the speaker further expands on the graveyard image as he greets the dead. It is unclear exactly why Carroll uses apostrophe to invite praised figures such as “warriors. The rhyme scheme is regular: AAB-C. The last line of the sixth tercet briefly reverts to the third stanza’s solemn tone regarding the passage of time: “Dreaming as the summers die” (18). corresponding with the poem’s meter. Carroll quickly regains his optimistic view that despite the conclusion of the Alice tale. only to turn them away.” where he described Alice: “Still she haunts me” (10). and The Caterpillar. / Dreaming as the days go by” (16-17). The first stanza begins with haunting images of ghosts and mists. with the first three lines changing in each quatrain. the tone sounds very much like a march of the dead. Row Your Boat. However. stating the inevitability of them leaving. Row. “Dreamland.” . but quickly changes his tone and diminishes their importance by dismissing them as fleeting apparitions. In the second quatrain.transported to Wonderland: “In Wonderland they lie. future generations will continue reading the story.” ending with the last line: “Life what is it but a dream?” (21). as were the Liddell daughters at the end of the “Prologue”: “where Childhood's dreams are twined / … / Pluck'd in a far-off land” (39-42. “Row. mourning that they have disappeared into his past. This is reminiscent of the fourth stanza in the “Epilogue. except for each third line in iambic tetrameter to accommodate the internal rhymes. and sages” (5) to him. whose connotations remind one of a graveyard. saints. Written in quatrains of iambic trimeter. The White Queen.” is much darker and more fatalistic than the “Prologue” and “Epilogue” to Alice’s story.

The phrase “pass away” is repeated as a mantra throughout the whole poem. Both the third and fourth quatrains have a rhyme scheme beginning with FF. in Dreamland's centre.” draws more attention to the concept of time. These visions fair. a natural occurrence that is strongly controlled by time. and highlights the contrasting elements of dark and light found in the third and fourth stanzas. the repeated “r” sound creates alliteration. The assonance directly precedes and highlights the brighter shift in tone beginning in the fourth stanza. remembering that now Dreamland is only a memory. (13-16) Throughout the fourth quatrain. further linking the two stanzas. this couplet frames the poem in lines 3-4 and at the end in lines 19-20. Lines 9-12 are the only examples of assonance within the poem: the “y” in “May charm the eye: yet they shall die / Shall die and pass away. No spoiler's hand may enter. In line 15. The repetition of this melancholy couplet immediately after the glowing description of Dreamland’s purity suggests that Lewis Carroll is reminding himself of reality. Even though “Dreamland” was written ten years after the Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found . By describing the sun’s path throughout the sky during a day. which is also indicated by the “But” in line 13: But here. “fair” and “rare” create an internal rhyme. Lewis Carroll focuses on the aging effects of time. something that occurs once in every quatrain. this radiance rare. describing a beautiful morning sun and twilight before declaring that they “May charm the eye: yet they shall die / Shall die and pass away” (11). The placement of the internal rhyme emphasizes that the “radiance” (15) emanating from “Dreamland’s centre” (13) is the only beautiful light that will never die. but again. the only time it is negated is in the stanza describing the wonders of Dreamland.The third stanza is rather cynical. a concept practically ignored in the Alice novels. Shall never pass away. The final stanza returns to the somber tone of the first three tercets and echoes the first stanza in the last two lines: “Around me tread the mighty dead / And slowly pass away” (19-20).

Lewis Carroll addresses the stages of a dream: the beginning (“Prologue”). Lewis. 2010. Published Works of Lewis Carroll Carroll. Inc. perhaps Lewis Carroll was still being haunted by Alice. 1872. Lewis. In his three poems. and the aftermath (“Dreamland”). 841. Over a course of seventeen years. Reprint. 1865. it seems that the memory of Wonderland was omnipresent in Lewis Carroll’s imagination. Reprint. Inc. 1882. “Epilogue” from Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There. New York: Barnes & Noble. Inc. 1112. in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories. in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories. “Prologue” from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. 250. the end (“Epilogue”). Reprint. Is “Dreamland” really the sacred memory of Wonderland? Dreams are temporary distractions from reality. New York: Barnes & Noble. “Dreamland. their fleeting nature can evoke a wide range of responses and often disorient the dreamer upon awakening.” in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland & Other Stories. . Carroll.There. the memories will always stay with you. New York: Barnes & Noble. 2010. 2010. Carroll’s personal experience validates his theory that even after an ending. Lewis. Carroll.