Did you know a bee can turn into a crocodile? You didn’t? Then you’ve never read Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll! In it, Alice tries to recite a famous teaching poem of the time and fails miserably. But in the process she unconsciously creates a short funny parody of the moralistic teaching poems of the day.
First, the original, Against Idleness and Mischief, by Isaac Watts, who, by the way, also wrote “Joy to the World.”
How doth the little busy Bee
Improve each shining Hour
And gather Honey all the day
From every opening Flower!
How skilfully she builds her Cell!
How neat she spreads the Wax!
And labours hard to store it well
With the sweet Food she makes
In Works of Labour or of Skill
I would be busy too:
For Satan finds some Mischief still
For idle Hands to do
In Books, or Work, or healthful Play
Let my first Years be past
That I may give for every Day
Some good Account at last
Here is the ‘version’ or rather, parody, we are all familiar with”
How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!