Monday, November 1, 2010

Oh, Lord, save us from the fury of the Snarkmen!

I’ve tossed aside the inky soapbox which I was perched atop for the last week and shall now return to more purely Snarkish things, in particular this incantatory stanzel from the nether reaches of Fit the Third.

This infamous bit of verse is a strapping young specimen of what Viking literary critics once called a galdor, a magic charm put into verse designed to, as T.S. Eliot noted, fetch a cow out of a bog or similar military, amorous or financial quandaries.

This galdor is straining mightily to catch us a Snark, a beast which the glib-tongued Viking bards of yore would have certainly approved of. The theme of a heroic and hopeless armed struggle against a vastly evil beast is an ancient trope of Norse and Old English poetry and I am glad to see that Lewis Carroll saw fit to liberally sprinkle his Snarkiad with several galdors.

The jolly ironies of a clergyman’s son resorting to pagan charms to hunt a mythic beast is one of those rumply, disheveled things which the better sort of literary critics prefer to send off to the cleaners for a good pressing and crushing.

But we are Vikings today! We shall sail onwards to the next stanzel with our booty of enslaved critics filling the ships’ holds, the wind swelling our unfurled anapests and our galdors reeking of smiles and soap. Brashly seeking Baker-bane, with forkéd hopes flew Boojum-thane …

Elsewhere on The Hunting of the Snark …
Swept away!

Late breaking news … go here for some YouTube videos of Martin Olson's soon-to-appear Encyclopedia of Hell (illustrated by this artist and Tony Millionaire), videos featuring Ron Lynch, Bobcat Goldthwait (no, he's not dead … yet) and Rick Shapiro. Laugh, and the entire underworld laughs with you …


  1. Today the Snark with your illustrations was in the mail. I like it very much! However, I protect my hands with butcher gloves when holding it in my hands and read it very very cautiously, and I am always prepared to quickly lock it into a safe Krupp-Stahl cage in case it would show the slightest sign of preparing itself to turn into a Boojum.

  2. Thanks, Goetz! Yes, be careful of the book, it has the Boojum genetics … keep it in a safe or even better, a bathing machine.

    It goes well with smiles and soap, and also, in my experience, a good Pilsener and some pierogies with sauerkraut and rye bread.