"The Walrus and the Carpenter," a silly and surprisingly morbid poem by Lewis Carroll, was published in 1865. It was a part of the book Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, a sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. The poem is a narrative, or story, told by the annoying twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee.
The GeoStory "The Walrus and the Carpenter . . . And National Geographic", above, provides the entire text of the poem. It also includes a walk through the poem, with an image and map accompanying each stanza, and in many cases individual lines. The images are either literal representations or metaphors of a line in the stanza.
Use the GeoStory to better understand metaphors and other literary devices. Metaphors are figures of speech or visual representations in which a term is applied to something it could not possibly be. "Students have an appetite for learning," for example, is a metaphor. Students don't actually have an appetite for anything except food!
Carroll uses a number of other literary devices in "The Walrus and the Carpenter." A series of possible discussion questions about the literary devices used in the poem is provided in the following tab, "Questions." The discussion topics progress from the simplest to the most difficult.
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is a narrative poem, meaning it tells a story. What are the key events in the narrative?
Alliteration is the literary device of using the same letter or sound at the beginning of closely connected words. The first line of "The Walrus and the Carpenter" uses alliteration: "The sun was shining on the sea." What other lines of the poem use alliteration?
Personification is the literary device of giving human characteristics to plants, animals, or objects. (Personification sometimes called anthropomorphism.) Carroll uses personification in describing the Walrus: He speaks, walks, and eats like a person.
Besides the Walrus, what other examples of personification can you find in "The Walrus and the Carpenter"?
A simile is a literary device that simply compares one thing to another, usually using the linking words "like" or "as." "The Walrus and the Carpenter" has two famous, silly similes in one line. Can you spot them?
Rhyme is the repeating of a sound (or several sounds) in one or more words. Each of the 18 stanzas in "The Walrus and the Carpenter" has its own set of three rhyming words. Identify the rhyming words in each stanza.
A poem's rhyme scheme is its pattern of rhyme. Each ending line of a rhyming poem is identified by a letter. Rhyming words share the same letter. For example:
Mary had a little lamb (A)
Its fleece was white as snow (B)
And everywhere that Mary went (C)
The lamb was sure to go (B)
"Mary Had a Little Lamb" has a simple ABCB rhyme scheme. Can you identify the rhyme scheme of "The Walrus and the Carpenter"? (It isn't as hard as it seems!)
A poem's metre is its rhythm. Like many poems, "The Walrus and the Carpenter" uses iambs to create its metre. An iamb is simply an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable: duh-DUM.
Iambic meters are usually broken into how many iambs the poet puts in a row. Iambic trimeters are three iambs in a row: duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM. Iambic tetrameters are four in a row: duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM.
William Shakespeare and other Elizabethan poets are famous for iambic pentameter (five in a row): duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM, duh-DUM. "a HORSE, a HORSE, my KINGdom FOR a HORSE!" Richard III cries near the end of Shakespeare's play of the same name.
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" uses a combination of two iambic meters. What are they?
"The Walrus and the Carpenter" is a ballad. Can you sing it?
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry alliteration Noun
literary device of using the same letter, sound, or sound group at the beginning of closely connected words.
attributing human characteristics to other organisms or inanimate objects.
poem or verse often set to music, originally composed of a poem with the metre of iambic tetrameter followed by iambic trimeter.
physical, cultural, or psychological feature of an organism, place, or object.
having to do with the reign or time period of Elizabeth I of England (1558-1603).
in poetry, an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable: duh-DUM.
Lewis Carroll Noun
(1832-1898) pen name of British author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson.
exactly what is said, without exaggeration.
literary device Noun
technique or method a writer uses to structure their work or produce an effect, such as metaphor or hyperbole.
word or phrase used to represent something else.
rhythmic arrangement of syllables in a line of poetry.
having to do with death or dying.
story or telling of events.
attribution of human characteristics to inanimate objects.
written or spoken composition notable for its beauty or rhythm.
word that has the same ending sound as another word.
rhyme scheme Noun
pattern of rhyme.
literary device where two things are directly compared to each other, usually using the words "like" or "as."
part of a poem, marked by a certain number of lines or syllables.