Lewis Carroll: The Hunting of the Snark

5. Fit the Fifth: THE BEAVER'S LESSON (continued)

"Two added to one--if that could but be done,"
     It said, "with one's fingers and thumbs!"
Recollecting with tears how, in earlier years,
     It had taken no pains with its sums.

"The thing can be done," said the Butcher, "I think.
     The thing must be done, I am sure.
The thing shall be done! Bring me paper and ink,
     The best there is time to procure."

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),

"As to temper the Jubjub's a desperate bird,
     Since it lives in perpetual passion:
Its taste in costume is entirely absurd--
     It is ages ahead of the fashion:

"But it knows any friend it has met once before:
     It never will look at a bride:
And in charity-meetings it stands at the door,
     And collects--though it does not subscribe.

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