The Hunting of the Snark

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The Hunting of the Snark plate 1.jpg

For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.

"The Hunting of the Snark (An Agony in 8 Fits)" is a Narrative Poem by Lewis Carroll, telling the story of a group of unnamed adventurers as they search for the elusive Snark, a vaguely-described creature which lives on a remote island.

The poem may be considered a Spiritual Successor to "Jabberwocky" from Through the Looking Glass, and contains several of the same creatures that are mentioned in "Jabberwocky".

Worth noting is how the poem was constructed - the page quote is the last line, which was the first line that Carroll thought of. The rest of the poem was made to build up to it.

Tropes used in The Hunting of the Snark include:

"Friends, Romans, and countrymen, lend me your ears!"
(They were all of them fond of quotations )

"We have sailed many months, we have sailed many weeks,
     (Four weeks to the month you may mark),
But never as yet ('tis your Captain who speaks)
     Have we caught the least glimpse of a Snark!

He came as a Butcher: but gravely declared,
     When the ship had been sailing a week,
He could only kill Beavers. The Bellman looked scared,
     And was almost too frightened to speak:

But at length he explained, in a tremulous tone,
     There was only one Beaver on board;
And that was a tame one he had of his own,
     Whose death would be deeply deplored.

The Beaver, who happened to hear the remark,
     Protested, with tears in its eyes,
That not even the rapture of hunting the Snark
     Could atone for that dismal surprise!

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."

  • For Doom the Bell Tolls: As well as several mentions in the text, it's notable that the Bellman's bell is in every single illustration.
  • Hey, You: Played with, due to the Baker having forgotten his own name:

He would answer to "Hi!" or to any loud cry,
Such as "Fry me!" or "Fritter my wig!"
To "What-you-may-call-um!" or "What-was-his-name!"
But especially "Thing-um-a-jig!"

His intimate friends called him "Candle-ends,"
And his enemies "Toasted-cheese."

The Bellman perceived that their spirits were low,
And repeated in musical tone
Some jokes he had kept for a season of woe—
But the crew would do nothing but groan.

"Just the place for a Snark!" the Bellman cried,
As he landed his crew with care;
Supporting each man on the top of the tide
By a finger entwined in his hair.

"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."