The Three Badgers

by Lewis Carroll

from Sylvie and Bruno

There be three Badgers on a mossy stone
Beside a dark and covered way:
Each dreams himself a monarch on his throne,
And so they stay and stay -
Though their old Father languishes alone,
They stay, and stay, and stay.

There be three Herrings loitering around,
Longing to share that mossy seat:
Each Herring tries to sing what she has found
That makes Life seem so sweet.
Thus, with a grating and uncertain sound,
They bleat, and bleat, and bleat.

The Mother-Herring, on the salt sea-wave,
Sought vainly for her absent ones:
The Father-Badger, writhing in a cave,
Shrieked out 'Return, my sons!
You shall have buns,' he shrieked, 'if you'll behave!
Yea, buns, and buns, and bun!'

'I fear,' said she, 'your sons have gone astray.
My daughters left me while I slept.'
'Yes'm,' the Badger said: 'it's as you say.
'They should be better kept.'
Thus the poor parents talked the time away,
And wept, and wept, and wept.

'Oh, dear beyond our dearest dreams,
Fairer than all that fairest seems!
To feast the rosy hours away,
To revel in a roundelay!
How blest would be
A life so free -
Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
And drink the subtle Azzigoom!

'And if, in other days and hours,
Mid other fluffs and other flowers,
The choice were given me how to dine -
"Name what thou wilt: it shall be thine!"
Oh, then I see
The life for me -
Ipwergis-Pudding to consume,
And drink the subtle Azzigoom!'

The Badgers did not care to talk to Fish:
They did not dote on Herrings' songs:
They never had experienced the dish
To which that name belongs:
'And oh, to pinch their tails,' (this was their wish,)
'With tongs, yea, tongs, and tongs!'

'And are not these the Fish,' the Eldest sighed,
'Whose Mother dwells beneath the foam?'
'They are the Fish!' the Second one replied.
'And they have left their home!'
'Oh, wicked Fish,' the Youngest Badger cried,
'To roam, yea, roam, and roam!'

Gently the Badgers trotted to the shore -
The sandy shore that fringed the bay:
Each in his mouth a living Herring bore -
Those aged ones waxed gay:
Clear rang their voices through the ocean's roar,
'Hooray, hooray, hooray!'