by Pa Rock
One morning last week I was sitting in my car at work, killing time and getting centered for the work day by reading the current issue of Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, when I came to a jewel of a story by Dale C. Andrews. The story was entitled The Mad Hatter's Riddle, and as might be surmised form the title, it contained references to the works of Lewis Carroll. One of those references dealt with the today's poetry selection, taken from Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.
The story's author relates through the voice of one of his characters that Mr. Carroll, a mathematician whose real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, denied that either of his most famous books, Alice in Wonderland or Through the Looking Glass, was written with a real Alice in mind. The following poem, however, would indicate otherwise. Please read carefully!
by Lewis Carroll
A boat, beneath a sunny sky
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July --
Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear
Pleased a simple tale to hear --
Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die:
Autumn frosts have slain July.
Still she haunts me, phantomwise
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.
Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.
In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:
Ever drifting down the stream --
Lingering in the golden gleam --
Life what is it but a dream?
Dale C. Andrews describes the above type of poem as an acrostic, one where a message is spelled out by reading down through the first letters of each line. Miss Alice, it would seem, was most probably Alice Pleasance Liddell. So, if you are ever on Jeopardy...