Tis the Voice of the Lobster is a poem by Lewis Carroll that appears in Chapter 10 of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. As recited by Alice to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon, the first stanza describes a vain and stylish lobster who pretends not to fear sharks, but is in fact terrified by them. In the second stanza, an owl naively attempts to share a meat pie with a greedy panther. Although the poem's final line is left incomplete, the owl's unhappy fate is evident to the reader.The poem is a parody of "The Sluggard", a moralistic poem by Isaac Watts depicting the unsavory lifestyle of a slothful individual as a negative example.
- 'Tis the voice of the Lobster: I heard him declare
- "You have baked me too brown, I must sugar my hair."
- As a duck with its eyelids, so he with his nose
- Trims his belt and his buttons, and turns out his toes.
- When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark,
- And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark;
- But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
- His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.
- I passed by his garden, and marked, with one eye,
- How the Owl and the Panther were sharing a pie:
- The Panther took pie-crust, and gravy, and meat,
- While the Owl had the dish as its share of the treat.
- When the pie was all finished, the Owl, as a boon,
- Was kindly permitted to pocket the spoon;
- While the Panther received knife and fork with a growl,
- And concluded the banquet by --- *
(Alice's recitation is interrupted by the Mock Turtle, who finds the poem "the most confusing thing I ever heard")