I'LL TELL THEE EVERYTHING I CAN
by: Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
- 'LL tell
thee everything I can;
- There's little to relate,
- I saw an aged, aged man,
- A-sitting on a gate.
- "Who are you, aged man?" I said.
- "And how is it you live?"
- And his answer trickled through my head
- Like water through a sieve.
- He said, "I look for butterflies
- That sleep among the wheat;
- I make them into mutton-pies,
- And sell them in the street.
- I sell them unto men," he said,
- "Who sail on stormy seas;
- And that's the way I get my bread--
- A trifle, if you please."
- But I was thinking of a plan
- To dye one's whiskers green,
- And always use so large a fan
- That they could not be seen.
- So, having no reply to give
- To what the old man said,
- I cried, "Come, tell me how you live!"
- And thumped him on the head.
- His accents mild took up the tale;
- He said, "I go my ways,
- And when I find a mountain-rill,
- I set it in a blaze;
- And thence they make a stuff they call
- Rowland's Macassar Oil--
- Yet twopence-halfpenny is all
- They give me for my toil."
- But I was thinking of a way
- To feed one's self on batter,
- And so go on from day to day
- Getting a little fatter.
- I shook him well from side to side,
- Until his face was blue,
- "Come, tell me how you live," I cried,
- "And what it is you do!"
- He said, "I hunt for haddocks' eyes
- Among the heather bright,
- And work them into waistcoat-buttons
- In the silent night.
- And these I do not sell for gold
- Or coin of silvery shine,
- But for a copper halfpenny,
- And that will purchase nine.
- "I sometimes dig for buttered rolls,
- Or set limed twigs for crabs;
- I sometimes search the grassy knolls
- For wheels of hansom-cabs.
- And that's the way" (he gave a wink)
- "By which I get my wealth--
- And very gladly will I drink
- Your honor's noble health."
- I heard him then, for I had just
- Completed my design
- To keep the Menai bridge from rust
- By boiling it in wine.
- I thanked him much for telling me
- The way he got his wealth,
- But chiefly for his wish that he
- Might drink my noble health.
- And now, if e'er by chance I put
- My fingers into glue,
- Or madly squeeze a right-hand foot
- Into a left-hand shoe,
- Or if I drop upon my toe
- A very heavy weight,
- I weep, for it reminds me so
- Of that old man I used to know--
- Whose look was mild, whose speech was slow,
- Whose hair was whiter than the snow,
- Whose face was very like a crow,
- With eyes, like cinders, all aglow,
- Who seemed distracted with his woe,
- Who rocked his body to and fro,
- And muttered mumblingly and low,
- As if his mouth were full of dough,
- Who snorted like a buffalo--
- That summer evening long ago,
- A-sitting on a gate.
POEMS BY LEWIS CARROLL
"I'll Tell Thee Everything
I Can" is reprinted from The Hunting of the Snark and
Other Poems and Verses. Lewis Carroll. New York: Harper &