In 1855 Charles Dodgson composed a verse he claimed was a Stanza of Anglo-Saxon Poetry.
Twas bryllyg, and ye slythy toves
He later added other stanzas, and the poem became known as Jabberwocky.
In 1871, under the pen name of Lewis Carroll, he included it in his Alice in Wonderland sequel called Through the Looking-Glass. Alice uses a mirror to read the poem. She cant make sense of it, of course, but she comments that Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas only I don't exactly know what they are!
I can tell you what ideas the first two lines fill my head with.
To me, bryllyg suggests brilliant. At the end of the second line, wabe suggests wave.
Before that, gymble is very like gimbal, and gyre is an actual word, both having to do with rotation.
Humpty Dumpty adds another clue: Slithy means lithe and slimy.
That leaves only toves unexplained. They must be the little sardine-like fish called grunion.
Therefore, to translate:
It was a brightly moonlit night, and the slippery grunion
Wikipedia tells us that an invitation to go see the running of the grunion was used for several years during the 1950s and 1960s by adolescent boys as part of a seduction line to get their dates alone in a site overlooking the sea, much like the submarine races.
yes, the submarine races. Apparently they were popular even at
inland sites like The Ohio State University. In the 1960s Ben
Hayes, a columnist for the Columbus Citizen-Journal, sometimes
alluded to watching submarines race in the Olentangy River. I
didnt understand what he meant. The river wasnt big
enough for subs, and they would be hard to see if submerged.
Later I found out what he was talking about: parking along the
river to watch the races with ones date, then making out while
waiting for the event to start.
As long as were reminiscing: The morning Citizen-Journal was the Columbus paper our family read. (It had been the Ohio State Journal before a 1959 merger.) For whatever reason, we didnt take the afternoon Columbus Dispatch.
Nor did we subscribe to the newspaper published in our county seat, the Marysville Journal-Tribune. Back then, Marysville was only twice as big as our own little town. It didnt even get promoted from village to city until a few years after the 1960 census, when its population was estimated to have surpassed 5,000. Instead, our afternoon daily was the Marion Star, from the more populous small city to our northeast.
And as long as were digressing about newspapers: Have you noticed they devise their own rules about proper names? Sometimes those rules produce odd-looking results.
In the old days, when the Citizen-Journal mentioned Vine Street and Neil Avenue, they used the abbreviations Vine-st and Neil-av. I dont think this affectation by the C-J ever caught on.
Also in the old days, the Star and many other publications identified a married woman not by her own name (Sally Jones Smith) but by her husbands name (Mrs. Robert Smith). This convention seemed antiquated to me even in 1961.
Back to the previous digression. Even today here in Pittsburgh, the rules about names seem arbitrary.
Outside Brashear High School last November, Anjohnito Willet was arrested for shooting fellow students Andrew Umphrey, DaJour Jones, and Robert "Eugene" Minor III. On second reference in the Post-Gazette, one might expect the shooter to be referred to as Mr. Willet. But the boys are only juveniles. Therefore, the paper called them Anjohnito and Andrew and DaJour and Robert.
On the other hand, if the paper were to review a concert by adults Meat Loaf and Miley Cyrus, in later paragraphs theyd be referred to as Ms. Cyrus and Mr. Loaf.