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The Snark

I’ve been looking into conviction by repetition for another project, and landed on a long-time favorite of mine, The Hunting of the Snark. Re-reading it now gave me an uncanny sense of double vision. The bit that did it follows the First Fit of the poem, in which the other crew members are described.

The crew was complete: it included a Boots–
A maker of Bonnets and Hoods–
A Barrister, brought to arrange their disputes–
And a Broker, to value their goods.

A Billiard-maker, whose skill was immense,
Might perhaps have won more than his share–
But a Banker, engaged at enormous expense,
Had the whole of their cash in his care.

Then he gets to the Bellman.

The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies–
Such a carriage, such ease and such grace!
Such solemnity, too! One could see he was wise,
The moment one looked in his face!

He had bought a large map representing the sea,
Without the least vestige of land:
And the crew were much pleased when they found it to be
A map they could all understand.

“What’s the good of Mercator’s North Poles and Equators,
Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?”
So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply
“They are merely conventional signs!

“Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes!
But we’ve got our brave Captain to thank:
(So the crew would protest) “that he’s bought us the best–
A perfect and absolute blank!”

This was charming, no doubt; but they shortly found out
That the Captain they trusted so well
Had only one notion for crossing the ocean,
And that was to tingle his bell.

He was thoughtful and grave–but the orders he gave
Were enough to bewilder a crew.
When he cried “Steer to starboard, but keep her head larboard!”
What on earth was the helmsman to do?

Then the bowsprit got mixed with the rudder sometimes:
A thing, as the Bellman remarked,
That frequently happens in tropical climes,
When a vessel is, so to speak, “snarked.”

But the principal failing occurred in the sailing,
And the Bellman, perplexed and distressed,
Said he had hoped, at least, when the wind blew due East,
That the ship would not travel due West!

You see what I mean? Eerie. Lewis Carroll didn’t even know any of our politicians.

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