Lime Twig

I was walking on a hillside, alone, one bright summer day, when suddenly there came into my head one line of verse — one solitary line — “For the Snark was a Boojum, you see.” I knew not what it meant, then: I know not what it means, now; but I wrote it down: and, some time afterwards, the rest of the stanza occurred to me, that being its last line: and so by degrees, at odd moments during the next year or two, the rest of the poem pieced itself together, that being its last stanza.

Source: Lewis Carroll in Alice on Stage, The Theatre, April 1887.
See also:

That walk over the hills near Guildford took place on 1874-07-18. I think that leaving such a nice origination story to his readers is part of Carroll’s skillful marketing of his Snark ballade.

Oliver Sturm, who translated The Hunting of the Snark into German (Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz. 1996, ISBN 978-3-15-009433-4, p. 85) called that a “lime twig for critics” (“Leimrute für Kritiker”). I think that some people even checked the weather reports for that day. It wasn’t sunny.

I don’t think that Carroll really misleads his readers when he said “I know not what it means”. He just made his poem as ambiguous as possible. The motive: Widening the interpretation space of his Snark poem. In case his readers (like me) think they have discovered some obfuscated meaning, it is the reader (again like me) who can be hold responsible for her or his interpretation, not the author. So, as for my interpretations, there still is the possibility that I am misleading myself. (If that is the case, than at least I cannot be blamed for having published spoilers.)

This is why the Snark hunt never will end.

What I tell you three times is true!

001    “Just the place for a Snark!” the Bellman cried,
002        As he landed his crew with care;
003    Supporting each man on the top of the tide
004        By a finger entwined in his hair.

005    “Just the place for a Snark! I have said it twice:
006        That alone should encourage the crew.
007    Just the place for a Snark! I have said it thrice:
008        What I tell you three times is true.”

329    “’Tis the voice of the Jubjub!” he suddenly cried.
330        (This man, that they used to call “Dunce.”)
331    “As the Bellman would tell you,” he added with pride,
332        “I have uttered that sentiment once.

333    “’Tis the note of the Jubjub! Keep count, I entreat;
334        You will find I have told it you twice.
335    ’Tis the song of the Jubjub! The proof is complete,
336        If only I’ve stated it thrice.”

Kelly Ramsdell Fineman told us …

… that President Theodore Roosevelt and Edith Wharton were huge fans of the Snark. On one visit to the White House, Wharton learned of the following exchange that occurred between the President and the Secretary of the Navy (undoubtedly unaware of Carroll’s poem, or at least unaware that Roosevelt was quoting):

During discussion, Roosevelt said to the secretary of the Navy,

“Mr. Secretary, what I tell you three times is true!”

The Secretary replied stiffly,

“Mr. President, it would never for a moment have occurred to me to impugn your veracity.”

Yes, better don’t impugn your leader’s veracity. Even though he will get rid of you rather sooner than later, you don’t need to push it.


The Bellman’s Rule is stated in Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, line #7 and line #335. I said it in Lua – wrote it in Python, I created it for high speed, but I wholly forgot (when finally done), that Haskell is what you need! So, here is an example for how to implement that rule:

#! /usr/bin/haskell
import Data.List
statementList :: [String]
statementList =
  ["Grand Fenwick steals American jobs!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"Just the place for a Brexit!"
  ,"There are 9 Snark hunters."
  ,"Grand Fenwick steals American jobs!"
  ,"There are 9 Snark hunters."
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"Brexit promises will be kept!"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"Just the place for a Brexit!"
  ,"6 * 7 = 42"
  ,"Grand Fenwick steals American jobs!"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"6 * 7 = 39"
  ,"There are 10 Snark hunters."
  ,"Just the place for a Brexit!"
atLeastThrice :: [String] -> [String]
atLeastThrice sL = [head grp | grp <- group $ sort sL, length grp >= 3]

Result (if loaded and executed in GHCi):
*Main> atLeastThrice statementList
["6 * 7 = 39","Brexit promises will be kept!","Grand Fenwick steals American jobs!","Just the place for a Brexit!","There are 10 Snark hunters."]

Fr ɖ Snarc wz a Būjm, y si | lewis-carroll-in-nspel-including-the-original-illustrations-by-henry-holiday/

“Jst ɖ ples fr a Snarc!” ɖ Belmn craid,
Az h landd hiz cru wɖ cer,
S’portñ ć man on ɖ top v ɖ tîd
Bî a fngr intwînd in hiz her.

“Jst ɖ ples fr a Snarc! I hv sd it twîs.
Ɖt alon śd incurij ɖ cru.
Jst ɖ ples fr a Snarc! I hv sd it ʈrîs.
Ẃt I tel y ʈri tîmz z tru.”

Easter Greeting

Easter Greeting by Lewis Carroll, printed by James Parker & Co. (Oxford, 1876) for C. L. Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) privately on cream laid fine paper, watermarked by E. Towgood. Tipped in at front end paper of Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, 1st edition and 1st printing, Macmillan & Co. (London, 1876).

Shortly before publishing The Hunting of the Snark, Carroll perhaps became afraid of his own work and tried to prepare his readers for the tragedy: On his own expense, he inserted that Easter Greeting into the already printed first edition of the book.

Snark Explanations

by Mary Hammond, published on Nov 7, 2017. There also is an essay: Mary Hammond, Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark Explained.

Mary Hammond’s interpretation of course is not the first Snark interpretation. First hints on what the Snark could be about had been given to us by Henry Holiday and Philo M. Buck. And there is an excellent chapter on Carroll’s tragicomedy in Louise Schweitzer’s One Wild Flower. Oliver Sturm’s Die Jagd nach dem Schnatz is a German translation, which also contains an attempt to explain the Snark. And there is a Snark chapter in Klaus Reichert’s Lewis Carroll: Studien zum literarischen Unsinn. Reichert is another German Snark translator.

Among the interpretations known to me, Mary Hammond’s interpretation is the first one where Eternal Damnation is seen as one of the more important issues to which Lewis Carroll might have taken reference in The Hunting of the Snark. In Carroll’s poem, the Baker‘s Forty-Two Boxes led me to the same conclusion earlier.

In my correspondence with Mary Hammond she also told me about what in her view “…jum” in Boojum could stand for: Search for jumble in the chapter Of Reason in John Locke‘s Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).

I too associate Boojum with the vanishing of reason – which too often is the beginning of violence. Yet, I’ll probably never know, whether my association is similar to what the Boojum meant to Carroll.

549    “It’s a Snark!” was the sound that first came to their ears,
550        And seemed almost too good to be true.
551    Then followed a torrent of laughter and cheers:
552        Then the ominous words “It’s a Boo-”

553    Then, silence. Some fancied they heard in the air
554        A weary and wandering sigh
555    That sounded like “-jum!” but the others declare
556        It was only a breeze that went by.

Original Manuscript Found Among Brexit Impact Study Tables

Here is the manuscript. Also I publish the secret road map used by the British government to navigate through the Brexit.

What I tell you three times is true:

349       “The thing can be done,” said the Butcher, “I think.
350        The thing must be done, I am sure.
351        The thing shall be done! …”