Friday, 6 December 2013

The Baker does his sums with the Beaver

The Baker does his sums with the Beaver, an illustration by JVL in Lewis Carroll's 
The Hunting of the Snark, Artists' Choice Editions, 2006.

The Text:

The Beaver brought paper, portfolio, pens,
 And ink in unfailing supplies:
 While strange creepy creatures came out of their dens,
 And watched them with wondering eyes.

So engrossed was the Butcher, he heeded them not,
 As he wrote with a pen in each hand,
 And explained all the while in a popular style
 Which the Beaver could well understand.

"Taking Three as the subject to reason about--
 A convenient number to state--
 We add Seven, and Ten, and then multiply out
 By One Thousand diminished by Eight.

"The result we proceed to divide, as you see,
 By Nine Hundred and Ninety Two:
 Then subtract Seventeen, and the answer must be
 Exactly and perfectly true.

"The method employed I would gladly explain,
 While I have it so clear in my head,
 If I had but the time and you had but the brain--
 But much yet remains to be said.

"In one moment I've seen what has hitherto been
 Enveloped in absolute mystery,
 And without extra charge I will give you at large
 A Lesson in Natural History."

In his genial way he proceeded to say
 (Forgetting all laws of propriety,
 And that giving instruction, without introduction,
 Would have caused quite a thrill in Society),

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