Twas after a supper of Norfolk brawn
That into a doze I chanced to drop,
And thence awoke in the grey of dawn,
In the wonder-land of Turvey Top.
A land so strange I never had seen,
And could not choose but look and laugh--
A land where the small the great includes,
And the whole is less than the half!
A land where the circles were not lines
Round central points, as schoolmen show,
And the parallels met whenever they chose,
And went playing at touch-and-go!
There--except that every round was square,
And save that all the squares were rounds--
No surface had limits anywhere,
So they never could beat the bounds.
In their gardens, fruit before blossom came,
And the trees diminished as they grew;
And you never went out to walk a mile,
It was the mile that walked to you.
The people there are not tall or short,
Heavy or light, or stout or thin,
And their lives begin where they should leave off,
Or leave off where they should begin.
There childhood, with naught of childish glee,
Looks on the world with thoughtful brow;
'Tis only the aged who laugh and crow,
And cry 'We have done with it now!';
A singular race! what lives they spent!
Got up before they went to bed!
And never a man said what he meant,
Or a woman meant what she said.
They blended colours that will not blend,
All hideous contrasts voted sweet;
In yellow and red their Quakers dress'd,
And considered it rather neat.
They didn't believe in the wise and good,
Said the best were worst, the wisest fools;
And 'twas only to have their teachers taught
That they founded national schools.
They read in 'books that are no books,'
Their classics--chess-boards neatly bound;
Those their greatest authors who never wrote,
And their deepest the least profound.
Now, such were the folks of that wonder-land,
A curious people, as you will own;
But are there none of the race abroad,
Are no specimens elsewhere known?
Well, I think that he whose views of life
Are crooked, wrong, perverse, and odd,
Who looks upon all with jaundiced eyes--
Sees himself and believes it God,
Who sneers at the good, and makes the ill,
Curses a world he cannot mend;
Who measures life by the rule of wrong
And abuses its aim and end,
The man who stays when he ought to move,
And only goes when he ought to stop--
Is strangely like the folk in my dream,
And would flourish in Turvey Top.