‘Twas brillig in Arabia

Lewis Caroll’s poem “Jaberwocky” from Through the Looking-Glass has been translated into Arabic.

The major inspiration for this translation, in addition to Jabberwocky itself, is Al-Asmai’s equally nonsense, much more ancient poem “Safiru Sawtu Al-Bulbuli” (The Bulbul’s Song). Al-Asmai was an important 9th century Arabic scholar and poet, known for his books on subjects as wide-ranging as zoology, natural science, and anecdotes.

The poem, and the rest of the story behind it, is here. If you want to hear what a nonsense poem in Arabic sounds like, someone has thoughtfully uploaded a recording of the Bulbul song to YouTube, along with the Arabic so you can follow along.

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