Monday, 6 October 2014

Alice: The Acrostic

Since the republic of letters, and of pictures, is one, let us discuss poetry on Comics Appreciation: "...the acrostic poem that concludes Through The Looking Glass" is beautifully reproduced on the graphically illustrated page 64 of Bryan Talbot's Alice In Sunderland: An Entertainment (London, 2007).

The poem is about nostalgia:

"A boat beneath a sunny sky,
"Lingering onward dreamily
"In an evening of July -"

and the passage of time:

"Long has paled that sunny sky:
"Echoes fade and memories die:
"Autumn frosts have slain July."

But something endures, in memory:

"Still she haunts me..."

- and in imagination:

"Alice moving under skies
"Never seen by waking eyes."

- and in future generations:

"Children yet, the tale to hear..."

Each generation experiences the summer:

"Dreaming as the days go by..."

 - and successive summers:

"Dreaming as the summers die..."

- and always remembers:

"Ever drifting down the stream -
"Lingering in the golden gleam -"

In the third last line and despite the theme of transience, the word "Ever..." is used. Finally, life ends:

"Life, what is it but a dream?"

To Lewis Carroll, a clergyman, life was a dream from which we wake whereas many of us think that it is followed by a dreamless sleep. (Plato in the Phaedo: "Eternity is a single night.") Carroll reversed the metaphor in another Alice poem:

"We are but older children, dear,
"Who fret to find our bedtime near."

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