Lewis Carroll: The Hunting of the Snark


They sought it with thimbles, they sought it with care;
     They pursued it with forks and hope;
They threatened its life with a railway-share;
     They charmed it with smiles and soap.

But the Barrister, weary of proving in vain
     That the Beaver's lace-making was wrong,
Fell asleep, and in dreams saw the creature quite plain
     That his fancy had dwelt on so long.

He dreamed that he stood in a shadowy Court,
     Where the Snark, with a glass in its eye,
Dressed in gown, bands, and wig, was defending a pig
     On the charge of deserting its sty.

The Witnesses proved, without error or flaw,
     That the sty was deserted when found:
And the Judge kept explaining the state of the law
     In a soft under-current of sound.

The indictment had never been clearly expressed,
     And it seemed that the Snark had begun,
And had spoken three hours, before any one guessed
     What the pig was supposed to have done.

The Jury had each formed a different view
     (Long before the indictment was read),
And they all spoke at once, so that none of them knew
     One word that the others had said.

"You must know ---" said the Judge: but the Snark exclaimed "Fudge!"
     That statute is obsolete quite!
Let me tell you, my friends, the whole question depends
     On an ancient manorial right.

"In the matter of Treason the pig would appear
     To have aided, but scarcely abetted:
While the charge of Insolvency fails, it is clear,
     If you grant the plea 'never indebted.'

"The fact of Desertion I will not dispute;
     But its guilt, as I trust, is removed
(So far as related to the costs of this suit)
     By the Alibi which has been proved.

"My poor client's fate now depends on your votes."
     Here the speaker sat down in his place,
And directed the Judge to refer to his notes
     And briefly to sum up the case.

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