amphigory

The Jabberwock, illustrated by John Tenniel.

Definition:

A nonsensical piece of writing (such as Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky"), especially one that parodies a serious piece of writing.

See also:

Etymology:

Possibly from the Greek, "about" + "circle"

Examples and Observations:

  • 'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.

    "Beware the Jabberwock, my son
    The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
    Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
    The frumious Bandersnatch!"

    He took his vorpal sword in hand;
    Long time the manxome foe he sought--
    So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
    And stood awhile in thought.

    And, as in uffish thought he stood,
    The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
    Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
    And burbled as it came!

    One, two! One, two! And through and through
    The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
    He left it dead, and with its head
    He went galumphing back.

    "And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
    Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
    O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!"
    He chortled in his joy.

    'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
    Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
    All mimsy were the borogoves,
    And the mome raths outgrabe.
    (Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There, 1872)
  • "So she went into the garden to cut a cabbage leaf, to make an apple-pie; and at the same time a great she-bear, coming up the street, pops its head into the shop. "What! no soap?" So he died, and she very imprudently married the barber; and there were present the Picninnies, and the Joblillies, and the Garyulies, and the grand Panjandrum himself, with the little round button at top; and they all fell to playing the game of catch as catch can, till the gunpowder ran out at the heels of their boots."
    (attributed to Samuel Foote [1720-1777], printed in this form in Harry and Lucy Concluded by Maria Edgeworth, 1825)
  • "The Amphigory should focus on one main thing: it should not make any sense whatsoever, yet appear to do the opposite. That is to say, it should look like you are trying to say something, when the poem really has no basis in coherent thought. This can be accomplished through the proper use of poetic tropes, such as conceited metaphors, cliches, and jibberish."
    (Travis Lyon, Forms of Poetry. TeaLemon, 2003)
  • "From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine,
    Pallid and pink as the palm of the flag-flower that flickers with fear of the flies as they float,
    Are they looks of our lovers that lustrously lean from a marvel of mystic miraculous moonshine,
    These that we feel in the blood of our blushes that thicken and threaten with throbs through the throat?"
    (Algernon Charles Swinburne, "Nephelidia")

Pronunciation: AM-fi-gawr-ee

Alternate Spellings: amphigouri