Jabberwocky

SATB, a capella

A dramatic and humorous setting of the text from “Alice Through the Looking Glass”, this is one movement from a set – “Four Lewis Carroll Songs.”  May be purchased and performed separately.

Program Note

Four Lewis Carroll Songs were composed for and premiered by Seattle Pro Musica, and were awarded the Melodious Accord Composition prize. The work has been performed by numerous choral ensembles throughout the United States, and in Europe. The four movements may be performed as a set, or individually.

The four poems (Turtle Soup, Father William, Jabberwocky, and Speak roughly) are found in Alice in Wonderland and Alice Through the Looking-Glass, and are immediately familiar to most listeners. Turtle Soup is the song sung to Alice by the Mock Turtle, “in a voice chocked with sobs”, while Father William is a poem recited by Alice to the hookah-puffing caterpillar. Jabberwocky, the famous poem which Alice reads by holding it up to a looking-glass, is full of unusual words which are explained by Humpty-Dumpty thusly:  “brillig – four o’clock in the afternoon; “slithy toves – lithe and slimy creatures something like a badger, a lizard and a corkscrew; gyre – to go round like a gyroscope; gimble – to make holes like a gimlet; mimsy – flimsy and miserable; borogove – a thin, shabby looking bird, something like a live mop; mome raths – green pigs, who’ve lost their way; outgrabe – something between bellowing and whistling, with a sneeze in the middle.” (The other words are left to the reader’s imagination.) Finally, Speak roughly is sung by the Duchess to her howling, sneezing baby, who later turns into a pig.

Notes on preparation and performance

 

Text

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.

 

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