Monday, April 5, 2010

The Mad Tea-Party

A parody freely adapted from chapter 3 of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865).

(Scene: Alice finds the Hatter and March Hare with Dormouse asleep between them. They sit crowded together near one corner of a very long table set for tea.)

Hare & Hatter: No room! No room!

Alice (sits at the end): There’s plenty of room.

Hare: Have some wine.

Alice (looks around): I don’t see any wine.

Hare: There isn’t any.

Alice: Then it wasn’t very civil of you to offer it

Hare: It wasn’t very civil of you to sit down without being invited.

Alice: Is this your table? It’s laid for a great many more than three.

Hatter: You foreigners always move in.

Alice: What? I’ve never been out of Oxfordshire.

Dormouse (in his sleep): Talk English!

Alice: Exactly so.

Hatter (looks at his watch): What day is it?

Alice: 15 July 1862. Everyone knows that.

Hatter: Wrong! (to Hare): I told you butter would ruin the works of this watch.

Hare (dips watch in tea): I used the best butter.

Alice (looks at watch). It tells the day of the month and not what o’clock it is.

Hatter: Why should it? Does your watch tell the time of day?

Alice: If I had a watch.

Hatter: Just the same as mine.

Alice (politely): I don’t quite understand you.

(Hare pours hot tea on Dormouse’s nose.)

Dormouse (asleep): My remark, too.

Hatter: There’s too much change anyway. We need to go back to the way things were and meant to be.

Alice: As they were when?

Hare: They keep trying to change the Constitution.

Alice: What Constitution?

Hatter: Our rights! Don’t you know?

Alice (recalling school lessons): Certainly. Magna Carta, 1215; the Bill of Rights, 1685. Which time do you want?

Hare: I only wish it were a matter for wishing.

Alice (persisting): But, which?

Hatter: We would keep it 1685 as long as we liked.

Alice: Is that the way you manage time?

Hatter: Not I. It was last March that the Hare went mad.

Hare: He started it, singing in front of the Queen.

‘Twinkle, twinkle, little star!
When you here have gone too far!’

You know the song perhaps?

Alice: I’ve heard something like that.

Hatter: It goes on –

‘Up above the world you fly,
While the tax hits ev’ry guy.’

Dormouse (still sleeping, joins in):

‘Twinkle, twinkle, twinkle ...’

Hatter: I’d hardly finished the first verse, when the Queen bawled, ‘He’s murdering the time! Off with his head.’

Alice: So savage? I can’t imagine the Queen saying that!

Hare: So every since, it’s been 1685 at 6 o’clock.

Alice: So that’s why so many tea things are out here.

Hatter: That’s it. It’s always tea-time, and we’ve no time to wash the things between whiles and whens.

Alice: So you move around as things are used up. What happens when you come to the beginning again?

Hare: Suppose we change the subject. Tell a story.

Alice: I’m afraid I don’t know one.

Hare & Hatter: Then Dormouse shall! Wake up!

Dormouse (drowsily): I’m awake. I am awake. (clears throat) Once there were three sisters who lived at the bottom of a treacle well.

Hatter: I want a clean cup. Everyone move on one place.

Alice (looks at the place she would take where the Hare has upset the milk jug into his plate): Mr. Hatter, you are the only one to get any advantage out of this move.

Dormouse (drifts off again; mumbles): From the well they learned to draw everything beginning with an “M,” ... muchness ...

Alice: I don’t think -- .

Hatter: Then you shouldn’t talk.

Alice (in disgust, walks off): I’ll never go there again. It was the most foolish tea party I ever was at.

(Hare & Hatter try to put Dormouse into the teapot as the curtain falls.)
© Copyright 2010 by Roger Sween.

For a review of Alice's adventures in Wonderland, see Read in 10.

For retrieval of my posts with greater relevance, logic and precision than Google has yet to provide, see CeptsFormIndex for specific index links.

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Friday, April 2, 2010

Spring Haiku

Tis the Season for ... Haiku.

Updated 22 May 2010.

Haiku is an old Japanese form of poetry; it's classic period ran through the 15th and 16th centuries. Basho, 1644-1694, regarded as the greatest exemplar of haiku, made the form independent as a stand alone when previously it had been the starting lines of longer forms.

What makes haiku a specific poetic form in the Basho tradition depends upon a few "rules." The poem has three lines of 5, 7, and 5 syllables, references nature, and finishes with a surprise. Not everyone follows these rules, but I think they are essential and challenging to the art. Yet, even I sometimes bend them. Here is one of his famous creations that I translate.

Old pond sleeps alone
until little frog leaps in
and slaps the water.

Haiku is intensely popular to this day in Japan and has a following around the world. U.S. school classes often use haiku because its requirements prompt poetic consciousness among the young, and the limitations of the form make for simplicity and are relatively easy to follow while opening up creativity.

This spring, for the joy of the sudden flood of good weather after a long winter, the elements have prompted a series of haiku that I began in March. And they keep coming.

The season is Lent;
"it's not something lent," you say.
Tell again, what's Lent?

Winter shrinks slowly;
roofs, walks, decks emerge from snow.
March can be fooling.

While shoveling snow,
I spy two squills in bloom,
as promised, hardy.

The white-headed one,
commanding a barren branch,
scours, sharp-eyed, for prey.

The deer-run broke snow;
deep repeats caught spring-bound sun:
green curves snowy lawn.

In this age of pop-
ups, nothing beats the burst of
yellow daffodils.

Unseasonal spring
this April, aready the
windows are open.

Chives are green, Autumn
Joy sedum in green bunches;
peonies start red.

Spring cleanup begins.
Iron oak leaves clog bushes
and they keep falling.

Too long absent last
September, then rains delayed:
so much to do now.

Sifting the compost,
I harvest fungible soil.
Debris still remains.

Azaleas, tulips,
hydrangeas hot house in the
chancel: it's Easter.

Apple trees will bloom,
as always, for Mother's Day,
even if early.

Mrs. Robin in
flying flury bulds her nest
without adhesive.

She builds three nests
against the winds that take it
from under the deck.

Rains will come and give
her black essential mudding,
fixing home so fast.

Spiders often in the
shower: more thirsty species
in search of water.

Crabapple blossoms,
three weeks early downtown, bloomed
here for my birthday.

As never before,
the youthful hawthorn blossoms.
What a spring, this year!

Silvery traces
meander the patio.
Hostas beware - snails!

What is that perfume?
One bush overcomes the landscape -
Korean lilacs.

Time, a relentless
procession, is to me as
spring is to poets.
Copyright 2010 by Roger Sween

For retrieval of my posts with greater relevance, logic and precision than Google has yet to provide, see CeptsFormIndex for specific index links.

I welcome all comments to blog articles. For personal comments to me, send to