The Walrus and the Carpenter

The Walrus and the Carpenter

by Lewis Carroll

 “The sun was shining on the sea,
Shining with all his might:
He did his very best to make
The billows smooth and bright —
And this was odd, because it was
The middle of the night.

The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
”To come and spoil the fun.”

The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Were walking close at hand;
They wept like anything to see
Such quantities of sand:
If this were only cleared away,’
They said, it would be grand!’

If seven maids with seven mops
Swept it for half a year,
Do you suppose,’ the Walrus said,
That they could get it clear?’
I doubt it,’ said the Carpenter,
And shed a bitter tear.

O Oysters, come and walk with us!’
The Walrus did beseech.
A pleasant walk, a pleasant talk,
Along the briny beach:
We cannot do with more than four,
To give a hand to each.’

The eldest Oyster looked at him,
But never a word he said:
The eldest Oyster winked his eye,
And shook his heavy head —
Meaning to say he did not choose
To leave the oyster-bed.

But four young Oysters hurried up,
All eager for the treat:
Their coats were brushed, their faces washed,
Their shoes were clean and neat —
And this was odd, because, you know,
They hadn’t any feet.

Four other Oysters followed them,
And yet another four;
And thick and fast they came at last,
And more, and more, and more —
All hopping through the frothy waves,
And scrambling to the shore.

The Walrus and the Carpenter
Walked on a mile or so,
And then they rested on a rock
Conveniently low:
And all the little Oysters stood
And waited in a row.

The time has come,’ the Walrus said,
To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing-wax —
Of cabbages — and kings —
And why the sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings.’

But wait a bit,’ the Oysters cried,
Before we have our chat;
For some of us are out of breath,
And all of us are fat!’
No hurry!’ said the Carpenter.
They thanked him much for that.

A loaf of bread,’ the Walrus said,
Is what we chiefly need:
Pepper and vinegar besides
Are very good indeed —
Now if you’re ready, Oysters dear,
We can begin to feed.’

But not on us!’ the Oysters cried,
Turning a little blue.
After such kindness, that would be
A dismal thing to do!’
The night is fine,’ the Walrus said.
Do you admire the view?

It was so kind of you to come!
And you are very nice!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
Cut us another slice:
I wish you were not quite so deaf —
I’ve had to ask you twice!’

It seems a shame,’ the Walrus said,
To play them such a trick,
After we’ve brought them out so far,
And made them trot so quick!’
The Carpenter said nothing but
The butter’s spread too thick!’

I weep for you,’ the Walrus said:
I deeply sympathize.’
With sobs and tears he sorted out
Those of the largest size,
Holding his pocket-handkerchief
Before his streaming eyes.

O Oysters,’ said the Carpenter,
You’ve had a pleasant run!
Shall we be trotting home again?’
But answer came there none —
And this was scarcely odd, because
They’d eaten everyone.”

Summary of The Walrus and the Carpenter 

  • Popularity of “The Walrus and the Carpenter”: This poem was written by Lewis Carroll, a writer renowned for writing child fiction. ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’ is a narrative poem famous for the themes of death and betrayal. It was first published in 1865. This poem speaks about a Walrus and a Carpenter who trick innocent young oysters and eat them after a walk on the seashore. The poem also deals with the idea of cunningness in human nature.
  • “The Walrus and the Carpenter” As a Representative of Death: This poem is about two friends; Walrus and Carpenter who walk along the beach at night. Strangely, the moon and sun were shinning at the same time. They comment on the bright sun and sulky moon. Also, they seem unhappy with the bed of sand and think that the beach would be better without it. Soon they invite oysters to walk with them. The oldest oyster does not accept their offer, but four younger ones agree to join them.
    Later, more oysters line up for the walk. The Walrus intends to deceive oysters into thinking they are going to have a pleasant chat. Out of breath after a long walk, the oysters ask them to wait. Just then, they realize that they were going to be eaten. The walrus tries to show sympathy toward the poor creatures, but the carpenter simply wants to eat them. They mercilessly eat all the oysters. The readers can learn from the wise decision made by the oldest oyster who refused to walk with them, and it saved his life.
  • Major Themes in “The Walrus and the Carpenter”: Deception, death, and wisdom are the major themes of this poem. Walrus and the Carpenter intend to eat the oysters. That is why they ask them to join for a walk. Being wise, an older oyster understands their intention and does not join them. However, the younger oysters fall into their trap, despite the warning of their fellow oyster. On a deeper level, the poem gives a profound message, urging people not to follow leaders blindly.

Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “The Walrus and the Carpenter”

Literary devices are tools used by writers to convey their emotions, ideas, and themes. They allow the texts to be more lifelike and appealing to the readers. Lewis Carroll has also employed some literary devices in this poem to make it a unique literary piece. The analysis of some of the literary devices used in this poem has been given below.

  1. Personification: Personification is giving human qualities to inanimate objects. For example,

“The moon was shining sulkily,
Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there.”

  1. Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line in quick succession. For example, the sounds /r/ and /th/ in “And then they rested on a rock.”
  2. Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line. For example, the sound of /r/ “Their coats were brushed, their faces washed” and the sound of /r/ in “And shed a bitter tear”.
  3. Enjambment: It is defined as a thought or clause that does not come to an end at a line break; instead, it moves over the next line. For example,

“Because she thought the sun
Had got no business to be there
After the day was done —
“It’s very rude of him,” she said,
“To come and spoil the fun.”

  1. Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. For example, “The sun was shining on the sea”, “I weep for you,’ the Walrus said” and “With sobs and tears he sorted out.”
  2. Rhetorical Question: Rhetorical question is a question that is not asked in order to receive an answer. It is just posed to make the point clear. For example, “Shall we be trotting home again?”

Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “The Walrus and the Carpenter”

Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.

  1. Stanza: A stanza is formed of more than one line or verse. This is a long narrative poem with eighteen stanzas. Each stanza has six lines in it.
  2. Sestet: A sestet is a six-lined stanza. Here each stanza is sestet.
  3. Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows ABCBDB rhyme scheme and this pattern continuous till the end.
  4. End Rhyme: End rhyme is used to make the stanza melodious. For example, “quick/thick”, “fat/chat” and “low/row.”

Quotes to be Used

 The lines stated below can be used by a traveler who has visited an enchanting seacoast.

“The sea was wet as wet could be,
The sands were dry as dry.
You could not see a cloud, because
No cloud was in the sky:
No birds were flying overhead —
There were no birds to fly.”