Monday, February 12, 2007

What I tell you three times is true!

As regular Poetry Friday readers know, I'm reading The Annotated Hunting of the Snark: The Definitive Edition by Lewis Carroll, edited by Martin Gardner.

Yesterday, I spent time reading the Preface (by Lewis Carroll -- totally worth reading, and it's a hoot!) and "Fit the First -- The Landing".

In the First Fit*, readers are introduced to the members of the crew on this Snark-hunting mission. One quickly learns that the Bellman is the captain of the ship. Here's the second stanza of the second fit:

"Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
That alone should encourage the crew.
Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
What I tell you three times is true."**

*In the annotations, I learned the origin of the word "fit" (undoubtedly meant to be a double entendre here -- fit meaning "spasm" or "period of vigorous activity" and also "a section of a poem or ballad").

**I also learned that President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Wharton were huge fans of the Snark. On one visit to the White House, Wharton learned of the following exchange that occurred between the President and the Secretary of the Navy (undoubtedly unaware of Carroll's poem, or at least unaware that Roosevelt was quoting):

During discussion, Roosevelt said to the secretary of the Navy, "Mr. Secretary, what I tell you three times is true!"

The Secretary replied stiffly, "Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity."

Funny stuff. More to come as I make my way through the book.


Doug H said...

Dear Kelly, I have been trying for months to contact you as I would like to discuss various aspects of "The Hunting of the Snark". Is it possible for you to contact me directly by Email??
Kind regards, Doug H

Kelly Fineman said...

Dear Doug: I'd happily do it, if you'd leave me an email address. Or you may email me at my website. kelly at kellyfineman dot com