Posted in Poetry, rhyme, rhythm, Writing

Alice in Wonderland

This is my copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, it’s a bit tattered as you can see. I have just finished reading it to my ten year old son. A chapter a night, snuggled together in bed, something we both looked forward to. Next week I’ll begin the second part, Through the Looking Glass.

Rereading this classic brought me so much joy, especially all the nonsense verse, parodies of rhymes popular in that day.

When learning to write in rhyme and meter it is often helpful to borrow a poem and rewrite it using the same rhythmic pattern. Lewis Carroll did it brilliantly with all his poems but I especially like this one…

Here’s the original by Isaac Watts.


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. [1715]


And here is Lewis Carroll’s version…


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!

This version is certainly more playful.


Here’s my version…


How doth the naughty puppy dog

Improve its owner’s mood

Insisting that the slimy frog

Is perfect for its food


How wickedly he licks his lips

And leaps a graceful romp

While down his throat the froggy slips

And croaks it by the swamp


Have you ever borrowed the meter of a poem?

If you have and you’d like to share it here, please do.


Just quickly - I'm a children's author and poet. I'm an editor of rhyme and meter and I'm the owner of PASS IT ON - the Australian children's book industry ezine since 2004

6 thoughts on “Alice in Wonderland

  1. Indeed I have! Or rather I tried, and am still trying. It was my idea, then your exercise, but it’s so difficult!

    You and Lewis Carroll make it look sooooooo easy. I will try again.

    1. Ah – but that’s the fun of it. Give it a go and see what you come up with. And thanks too for the comment 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed the different versions.

    I often use other rhymes.
    This one comes form Humpty…

    Today we were marching around the town
    keeping the peace, uphill and down.
    We came to the wall where Dumpty sits
    but today he had fallen and broken to bits.

    We tried all we knew to make him well.
    Kings horses, King’s men, to fix up his shell.
    But sadly our efforts were all in vain.
    Smashed egg won’t go back together again!


  3. Hi Jackie,

    How wonderful! The thing with my kids when they were little was Norman Lindsay’s ‘The Magic Pudding’, and only when they were bigger ‘Lord of the Rings’ and acting out Gollum on the lounge room floor!

    What fun! I’ve often said that the measure of your success as a parent is, when they are themselves past 50, when your kids think back to their childhood the first thing that happens is a smile comes to their face.

    All the more reason to write, and read, great stories for kids.

    Very kindest regards,


    1. Oh yes I’d loved the magic pudding and Lord of the Rings – I lived in books really. Thanks for you comment 🙂

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