Chinese Jabberwocky (aka The Uncle that Sleeps in Your House)

This was written by my wife, Anna Liu for a party we went to. She took the Lewis Carroll nonsense poem "Jabberwocky" and wrote a poem in Mandarin Chinese that sounded similar. Note it is not a translation of Jabberwocky, it is a poem that sounds like Jabberwocky (at least to someone who knows the poem fairly well), but whose meaning is utterly different. I may at some point make the Chinese version available, but you already know how it sounds anyway (sort of). Here instead is the translation back into English:

Mr Te Wa Su had a short life, he liked to eat tofu.
The elder brother is full, and deserves foreign currency.
A rice drink, a pineapple and very many mangoes
are very expensive.

Avoid the uncle that sleeps in your house, that sells silkworms.
He's hopeless at doing things, and so are the Germans.
Avoid all uncles in all families.
The ladies he perves at - tied very tightly.

The pitch black witch, who speaks English and Chinese
found, in the dragon pool, a boat full of rags.
The black witch makes an offering to the boiling jade,
and secretly utters twisted spells.

"Heart and lungs grow ten degrees darker"
Love burns the uncle that sleeps in your house to ashes.
Why die for Buddhism?
My uncle's heart was broken.

Playboy, playboy - love/hate, love/hate...
The black witch smells of Nikes.
Her clothes got ripped, she fell over,
she told the elder brother - "tell the whole truth!"

- "And how is the uncle that sleeps in your house?"
- "We've just finished burying him!"
That's terrific, he laughed.

Anna Liu - 1999

The original Jabberwocky is found in Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Caroll. This 'translation' was inspired by the translations in Douglas Hofstadter's masterpiece Godel Escher Bach. If you are interested in translation, then Hofstadter's Le Ton Beau de Marot is also an excellent and stimulating work.

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