Yesterday I was thinking about how Lewis Carroll’s wry humor was a kind of code targeted directly at kids. No kid could miss that Alice is the only sensible person among a nutty bunch of adults in Wonderland — Caterpillars, Mad Queens, March Hares, and Mad Hatters — who can’t seem to follow the rules of social behavior they always lecture children to follow.
I was thinking particularly of Carroll’s spoof on the moralizing poem about the little busy bee — familiar to children of that day — and how he entertained with verses about a completely irresponsible and self-indulgent reptile.
Instead of admonishing children to be industrious with “How doth the little busy bee improve each shining hour,” he writes, “How doth the little crocodile improve his shining tail.” (Click there and watch the delicious Disney version on YouTube. Note how confused Alice looks at hearing the wrong words and how polite she is anyway.)
I realized I could write a post on spoofs of poems after my husband pointed out a second item this morning. It seems that the tree Joyce Kilmer praised in his best-known poem turns out to have been close to where I grew up.
And I can never hear these words by Kilmer — “I think that I shall never see/A poem as lovely as a tree” — without immediately hearing Ogden Nash spoofing Kilmer with “I think that I shall never see/A billboard lovely as a tree/And that unless the billboards fall,/ I’ll never see a tree at all.”
Please help me think of more examples. I’m sure there must be more.