The Pig's Tale

A poem by Lewis Carroll

Little Birds are dining
Warily and well,
Hid in mossy cell: Hid, I say, by waiters
Gorgeous in their gaiters,
I've a Tale to tell.

Little Birds are feeding
Justices with jam,
Rich in frizzled ham:
Rich, I say, in oysters
Haunting shady cloisters,
That is what I am.

Little Birds are teaching
Tigresses to smile,
Innocent of guile:
Smile, I say, not smirkle,
Mouth a semicircle,
That's the proper style.

Little Birds are sleeping
All among the pins,
Where the loser wins:
Where, I say, he sneezes
When and how he pleases,
So the Tale begins.

There was a Pig that sat alone
Beside a ruined Pump:
By day and night he made his moan,
It would have stirred a heart of stone
To see him wring his hoofs and groan,
Because he could not jump.

A certain Camel heard him shout,
A Camel with a hump.
"Oh, is it Grief, or is it Gout?
What is this bellowing about?"
That Pig replied, with quivering snout,
"Because I cannot jump!"

That Camel scanned him, dreamy-eyed.
"Methinks you are too plump.
I never knew a Pig so wide,
That wobbled so from side to side,
Who could, however much he tried,
Do such a thing as jump!

"Yet mark those trees, two miles away,
All clustered in a clump:
If you could trot there twice a day,
Nor ever pause for rest or play,
In the far future-Who can say,
You may be fit to jump."

That Camel passed, and left him there,
Beside the ruined Pump.
Oh, horrid was that Pig's despair!
His shrieks of anguish filled the air.
He wrung his hoofs, he rent his hair,
Because he could not jump.

There was a Frog that wandered by,
A sleek and shining lump:
Inspected him with fishy eye,
And said "O Pig, what makes you cry?"
And bitter was that Pig's reply,
"Because I cannot jump!"

That Frog he grinned a grin of glee,
And hit his chest a thump.
"O Pig," he said, "be ruled by me,
And you shall see what you shall see.
This minute, for a trifling fee,
I'll teach you how to jump!

"You may be faint from many a fall,
And bruised by many a bump:
But, if you persevere through all,
And practice first on something small,
Concluding with a ten-foot wall,
You'll find that you can jump!"

That Pig looked up with joyful start:
"Oh Frog, you are a trump!
Your words have healed my inward smart,
Come, name your fee and do your part:
Bring comfort to a broken heart
By teaching me to jump!"

"My fee shall be a mutton-chop,
My goal this wined Pump.
Observe with what an airy flop
I plant myself upon the top!
Now bend your knees and take a hop,
For that's the way to jump!"

Uprose that Pig, and rushed, full whack,
Against the ruined Pump:
Rolled over like an empty sack
And settled down upon his back
While all his bones at once went "Crack!"
It was a fatal jump.

Little Birds are writing
Interesting books,
To be read by cooks:
Read, I say, not roasted,
Letterpress, when toasted,
Loses its good looks.

Little Birds are playing
Bagpipes on the shore,
Where the tourists snore:
"Thanks!" they cry. "'Tis thrilling!
Take, oh take this shilling!
Let us have no more!"

Little Birds are bathing
Crocodiles in cream,
Like a happy dream:
Like, but not so lasting,
Crocodiles, when fasting,
Are not all they seem!

That Camel passed, as Day grew dim
Around the ruined Pump.
"O broken heart! O broken limb!
It needs", that Camel said to him
"Something more fairy-like and slim,
To execute a jump!"

That Pig lay still as any stone
And could not stir a stump:
Nor ever, if the truth were known
Was he again observed to moan
Nor ever wring his hoofs and groan,
Because he could not jump.

That Frog made no remark, for he
Was dismal as a dump:
He knew the consequence must be
That he would never get his fee,
And still he sits, in miserie
Upon that ruined Pump!

Little Birds are choking
Baronets with bun,
Taught to fire a gun:
Taught, I say, to splinter
Salmon in the winter,
Merely for the fun.

Little Birds are hiding
Crimes in carpet-bags,
Blessed by happy stags:
Blessed, I say, though beaten,
Since our friends are eaten
When the memory flags.

Little Birds are tasting
Gratitude and gold,
Pale with sudden cold:
Pale, I say, and wrinkled,
When the bells have tinkled,
And the Tale is Told.

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