The other night, from cares exempt,
I slept - and what d'you think I dreamt?
I dreamt that somehow I had come
To dwell in Topsy-Turveydom -
Where vice is virtue - virtue, vice:
Where nice is nasty - nasty, nice:
Where right is wrong and wrong is right -
Where white is black and black is white.
Where babies, much to their surprise,
Are born astonishingly wise;
With every Science on their lips,
And Art at all their finger-tips.
For, as their nurses dandle them
They crow binomial theorem,
With views (it seems absurd to us)
On differential calculus.
But though a babe, as I have said,
Is born with learning in his head,
He must forget it, if he can,
Before he calls himself a man.
For that which we call folly here,
Is wisdom in that favoured sphere;
The wisdom we so highly prize
Is blatant folly in their eyes.
A boy, if he would push his way,
Must learn some nonsense every day;
And cut, to carry out this view,
His wisdom teeth and wisdom too.
Historians burn their midnight oils,
Intent on giant-killers' toils;
And sages close their aged eyes
To other sages' lullabies.
Our magistrates, in duty bound,
Commit all robbers who are found;
But there the Beaks (so people said)
Commit all robberies instead.
Our Judges, pure and wise in tone,
Know crime from theory alone,
And glean the motives of a thief
From books and popular belief.
But there, a Judge who wants to prime
His mind with true ideas of crime,
Derives them from the common sense
Of practical experience.
Policemen march all folks away
Who practise virtue every day -
Of course, I mean to say, you know,
What we call virtue here below.
For only scoundrels dare to do
What we consider just and true,
And only good men do, in fact,
What we should think a dirty act.
But strangest of these social twirls,
The girls are boys - the boys are girls!
The men are women, too - but then,
PER CONTRA, women all are men.
To one who to tradition clings
This seems an awkward state of things,
But if to think it out you try,
It doesn't really signify.
With them, as surely as can be,
A sailor should be sick at sea,
And not a passenger may sail
Who cannot smoke right through a gale.
A soldier (save by rarest luck)
Is always shot for showing pluck
(That is, if others can be found
With pluck enough to fire a round).
"How strange!" I said to one I saw;
"You quite upset our every law.
However can you get along
So systematically wrong?"
"Dear me!" my mad informant said,
"Have you no eyes within your head?
You sneer when you your hat should doff:
Why, we begin where you leave off!
"Your wisest men are very far
Less learned than our babies are!"
I mused awhile - and then, oh me!
I framed this brilliant repartee:
"Although your babes are wiser far
Than our most valued sages are,
Your sages, with their toys and cots,
Are duller than our idiots!"
But this remark, I grieve to state,
Came just a little bit too late
For as I framed it in my head,
I woke and found myself in bed.
Still I could wish that, 'stead of here,
My lot were in that favoured sphere! -
Where greatest fools bear off the bell
I ought to do extremely well.