Lewis Carroll

(27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898 / Cheshire)

Father William - Poem by Lewis Carroll

'You are old, father William,' the young man said,
'And your hair has become very white;
And yet you incessantly stand on your head -
Do you think, at your age, it is right?'

'In my youth,' father William replied to his son,
'I feared it would injure the brain;
But now that I'm perfectly sure I have none,
Why, I do it again and again.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'as I mentioned before,
And have grown most uncommonly fat;
Yet you turned a back-somersault in at the door -
Pray, what is the reason of that?'

'In my youth,' said the sage, as he shook his grey locks,
'I kept all my limbs very supple
By the use of this ointment - one shilling the box -
Allow me to sell you a couple.'

'You are old,' said the youth, 'and your jaws are too weak
For anything tougher than suet;
Yet you finished the goose, with the bones and the beak -
Pray, how did you manage to do it?'

'In my youth,' said his father, 'I took to the law,
And argued each case with my wife;
And the muscular strength, which it gave to my jaw,
Has lasted the rest of my life.'

'You are old,' said the youth; one would hardly suppose
That your eye was as steady as ever;
Yet you balanced an eel on the end of your nose -
What made you so awfully clever?'

'I have answered three questions, and that is enough,'
Said his father; 'don't give yourself airs!
Do you think I can listen all day to such stuff?
Be off, or I'll kick you down stairs!'

'That is not said right,' said the Caterpillar.
'Not quite right, I'm afraid,' said Alice timidly;
'some of the words have got altered.'
'It is wrong from beginning to end,'
said the Caterpillar decidedly, and
there was silence for some minutes.

Comments about Father William by Lewis Carroll

  • Kate Lechoe (12/6/2015 11:45:00 PM)

    Nice poem. Changes as one grows. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • (12/6/2015 9:29:00 PM)

    Glad this poem was chosen by PH for our reading pleasure today. It is one
    of my favourites in the Alice adventures. It rivals the White Knight who sang of a plan to
    dye one's whiskers green, And always use so large a fan That they could not be seen.
    Dream, trance, mirror-image, reality are imperceptibly connected, as philosophers and
    psychologists and poets have found. Lewis Carroll hints at a parody of Wordsworth in
    this nonsense-poem. It has retained some of its childlike humour over 150 years. AM

    1 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Edward Kofi Louis (12/6/2015 2:03:00 PM)

    I took to the law; and, that hat made me what i am today. Nice work. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
  • Susan Williams (12/6/2015 1:18:00 PM)

    I never was a fan of Alice in Wonderland or Lewis Carroll or his humor-so this piece does not attract me in any way. This being so, I cannot add any worthwhile comment here. Though I wish someone could tell me what is so enjoyable about his writings (Report)Reply

    23 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Kim Barney (12/6/2015 11:50:00 AM)

    This is NOT a conversation between father and son, as Ratnakar would discover if he read it again carefully. It's from Alice in Wonderland. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (12/6/2015 1:01:00 AM)

    Beautiful story unfolded through the conversation of father and son. Enjoyed the poem. Thanks for sharing. (Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
    2 person did not like.
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Poem Submitted: Monday, March 29, 2010

Poem Edited: Tuesday, March 3, 2015

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