The Mad Gardener’s Song

by Lewis Carroll

Summary and Critical Analysis

The poem ‘The Mad Gardener’s Song’ by Lewis Carroll contains the several disjointed stanzas which have a stupid mad logic as a common factor. The first line of each stanza begins with “He though he saw….” And the third line of each stanza with “He looked again, and found it was”. This revised vision leads the personal to a conclusion in the last two lines of each stanza. However, the conclusion does not match the premise from which it is drawn.
The poem starts in a common way that the speaker thinks that he saw an elephant practicing a flute but suddenly the stanza encounters with something very uncommon that the elephant practicing the flute comes to be the letter form his wife which is the bitterness of life, for him. Similarly the poem begins and ends with nonsense rhyme. The speaker says in the second stanza he thinks he saw a buffalo on the chimney but when he looks it again he finds the buffalo was his sister’s husband’s niece whom he doesn’t like because he was burden for him that’s why he wanted to send him to Police Station.

Similarly, the speaker thinks that he saw a rattle snake which questioned him in Greek but latter on next look it was the middle of next week and he has regret for it that it cannot speak. Again, he thinks that he saw a Banker’s clerk descending from the bus but he finds it was a hippopotamus and if he stay for the dinner, there won’t be enough food left for them. Similarly, he thinks he saw a Kangaroo working at a coffee-mill but in real it was a Vegetable- Pill which can make him ill if he eats it. Next he imagines a coach driven by four horses standing besides his bed but it turns out to be a bear without head. He pities upon it thinking that it is waiting to be fed.

Similarly, the poem moves ahead with disjoint stanzas and mad logic. The speaker thinks that he saw an Albatross fluttering round the lamp but it was a Penny-Postage-Stamp in real and he advised it to go home because the nights are very damp. The garden door opening with a key turns out to be double role of three and he thinks that all its misery is clear to him. Finally the argument that proved he was the Pope turns out to be a bar of soap and he thinks that it takes away all the hope.

The Mad Gardener’s Song is composed in nine disjointed stanzas. These stanzas are similar and related only in that they follow the rhyme scheme ab ab db and all of them have a mad logic. The first line of each stanza begins with “He thought he saw….” And the third line of each stanza is “He looked again and found it was….” The last two lines carry the conclusion of the stanza but the conclusion does not match the premise from which it is drawn.

In conclusion, the whole poem is nonsense. It is simply a humorous poem written for the purpose of laughing and entertaining. If we see it deeply, it somehow turns as a satire for those people whom the poet doesn’t like and wants to show his anger to them.

Whatever is the reason, but in common this is a nonsense poem written with mad logic. The poem associates disparate elements without any intention of making sense. Although the cause and effects don’t match some stanza seems to be meaningful. Hence, the use of the uncommon style and nonsense logic as a common factor, this poem has become the example of a nonsense rhyme.

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