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(Code and Color Keys)

Jabberwocky
(from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872)
-- Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
Analysis Key

'Twas brillig (PA), | and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble {in the wabe}; |

All mimsy (PA) were the borogoves, |

And the mome raths outgrabe [#1]. |
 

"*You* Beware the Jabberwock (DO), my son [DirA]! |

The jaws [#3] [Adj. to "jaws" that bite,] the claws [#3] [Adj. to "claws" that catch]! |

*You* Beware the Jubjub bird (DO), and shun

The frumious Bandersnatch (DO)!" |
 

He took his vorpal sword (DO) {in hand}: |

Long time [NuA] the manxome foe (DO) he sought -- |

So rested he {by the Tumtum tree},

And stood awhile {in thought}. |
 

And, [Adv. to "Came" as {in uffish thought} he stood,]

The Jabberwock, {with eyes} {of flame},

Came whiffling [#5] {through the tulgey wood},

And burbled [Adv. to "burbled" as it came!] |
 

One two! [#2] One two! And {through and through} [#2]

The vorpal blade went snicker-snack [NuA]! |

He left it (DO) dead [#6], | and {with its head}

He went galumphing [#7] back. |
 

"And hast thou slain the Jabberwock (DO)? |

*You* Come {to my arms}, my beamish boy [DirA]! |

O frabjous day! [Inj] Callooh! [Inj] Callay! [Inj]"

He chortled {in his joy}. | [#4]
 

'Twas brillig (PA), | and the slithy toves

Did gyre and gimble {in the wabe}; |

All mimsy (PA) were the borogoves, |

And the mome raths outgrabe [#1]. |


Notes
1. "The mome raths outgrabe" is structurally ambiguous. "Mome" could be an adjective; "raths," a noun; and "outgrabe," a verb, as in "the small raths cried." Or, "mome" could be a noun; "raths," a verb; and "outgrabe," a direct object, as in "The mome stole apples." Depending on the meaning of the verb "raths," "outgrabe" could be a predicate adjective, as in "The mome became silent." Another interpretation would be to say that "outgrabe" is the verb and "raths" is the direct object, as in "The mome apples stole." Part of the fun of working with this poem is in having students explore these structural ambiguities.
2. The object of "through and through" is ellipsed, but the text obviously means that the blade went through and through something. I had to get into the next stanza before I understood that the blade went "through and through" the Jabberwock. Although they are not in sentences, the "One" and "two" function as nouns used as adverbs -- the count the times that the blade went through and through.
3. This sentence is a fragment. As such, it allows at least two possible grammatical explanations. 1) Insert the ellipsed verb -- "*Beware* the jaws that bite, *and* the claws that catch." This route leads to "jaws" and "claws" being explained as direct objects of the ellipsed verb. 2) Accept the fragment as such, but note that the meaning is easily understood because "jaws" and "claws" function as appositives to "Jabberwock."
4. The clause structure of this stanza can be explained in at least two ways. The KISS concept of clauses is based on the psycholinguistic model. In that model, words are chunked in short-term memory, with all words (except interjections) chunking to another word or phrase until everything chunks to a main S/V/C pattern. That sentence is then dumped to long-term memory, and the brain starts processing the next sentence. In this stanza, the question mark at the end of the first line suggests the end of a main clause, as does the exclamation point at the end of the second. The third line consists of interjections. In a statistical analysis, I would count these as a separate main clause, but that gets us into highly technical questions about statistical analysis. The interjections could be considered as part of the preceding main clause, or they could be considered as the direct object of "chortled" in the next line. But then. the entire quotation, including the two "main" clauses, can be considered as the direct object of "chortled" (and that would make the "main" clauses subordinate). One's explanation, in other words, depends on how one wants to cut the pie, and for what purpose.
     Note that the poem also raises interesting questions about pronouns. Who is the "he" who chortles?
5. At KISS Level Four, "whiffling" would be explained as a gerundive to "Jabberwock."
6. Most grammarians would probably explain "dead" as an objective complement, but KISS explains it, at Level Four, as a predicate adjective to an ellipsed infinitive "to be"; "it" then functions as the subject of the ellipsed infinitive, and the infinitive phrase functions as the direct object of "left." Although the KISS explanation may sound cumbersome, it is actually simpler. Students will be learning about ellipsed infinitives for other purposes, and the KISS explanation eliminates the need for "objective complements."
7. At KISS Level Four, "galumphing" would be explained as a gerundive to "He."