Notes on Amphigouri*: Slithy Toves, Granfalloons**, and Cromulentishness***

Illustration of the Jabberwock by Sir John Tenniel

Human language ranks even above the much-vaunted opposable thumb in my book. Sure, thumbs came in handy for our ancestors when it came to throwing spears at bison and such, but I think we can all agee that it was when humans developed the ability to order a mastodon sirloin rare with a side of sloth that things really started to take off progress-wise.

The human brain has a positive genius for nonsense. I'm not talking about its propensity for buying exercise equipment at 3 a.m. based on the testimony of a well-oiled Mr. Olympia while its fleshy chassis sprawls in a La-Z-boy whose cushions bear a permanent and anatomically detailed imprint of its nether regions. I'm talking about its facility with lines like, "`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves / Did gyre and gimble in the wabe: / All mimsy were the borogoves, / And the mome raths outgrabe."

Below are a few collections of nonsense verse from the Harris County Public Library.

Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc; rediscovered and illustrated by Edward Gorey Cover Art: Cautionary Tales for Children by Hilaire Belloc, Illus. by Edward Gorey
They've Discovered a Head in the Box for the Bread and Other Laughable Limericks / collected by John E. Brewton and Lorraine A. Blackburn
The Complete Illustrated Works of Lewis Carroll
Phantasmagoria and Other Poems by Lewis Carroll [computer file]
The Hopeful Trout & Other Limericks by John Ciardi
The Poems of Lewis Carroll, Selected by Myra Cohn Livingston, Illus. John Tenniel, et al.
Revolting Rhymes & Dirty Beasts by Roald Dahl [audio cassette and downloadable audio file]
Vile Verses by Roald Dahl
Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T.S. Eliot ; drawings by Edward Gorey
The Headless Bust : A Melancholy Meditation on the False Millennium written and illustrated by Edward Gorey
The Iron Tonic, Or, A Winter Afternoon in Lonely Valley by Edward Gorey
A Book of Nonsense by Edward LearCover Art: The Headless Bust by Edward Gorey
The Jumblies by Edward Lear
Of Pelicans and Pussycats by Edward Lear
Boshblobberbosh: Runcible Poems for Edward Lear by J. Patrick Lewis; illustrations by Gary Kelley
Ghastlies, Goops and Pincushions by X. J. Kennedy
A Book of Pigericks by Arnold Lobel
A Penny Saved Is Impossible by Ogden Nash
I Wouldn't Have Missed It: Selected Poems of Ogden Nash /
Verses from 1929 on. by Ogden Nash 
The Penguin Book of Limericks / Compiled by E. O. Parrott
A Book of Nonsense by Mervyn PeakeCover Art: Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot, Illus. by Edward Gorey
Rhymes Without Reason by Mervyn Peake
Ride a Purple Pelican by Jack Prelutsky
Fox in Socks by Dr. Seuss
On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss
Falling Up: Poems and Drawings by Shel Silverstein (also in Chinese)
Remain in Light / Talking Heads [CD]
Stop Making Sense / Talking Heads [VHS]
Gross Songs Kids Love to Sing by Twin Sisters Productions [electronic source]


Sir John Tenniel's from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and  courtesy of Wikimedia Commons