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Poetry in Translation (CCXVII): Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), ENGLAND, “How doeth the Little Crocodile”, “Cum face micul crocodil”

October 20th, 2013 · No Comments · Diaspora, PEOPLE, Poetry, quotations, Translations

Poetry in Translation (CCXVII): Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), ENGLAND, “How doeth the Little Crocodile”, “Cum face micul crocodil”

"The Crocodile" by Eric Gill, Mond Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge

“The Crocodile” by Eric Gill, Mond Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge

How doeth the Little Crocodile
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

How doth the little crocodile
Improve his shining tail,
And pour the waters of the Nile
On every golden scale!
How cheerfully he seems to grin,
How neatly spreads his claws,
And welcomes little fishes in,
With gently smiling jaws!


Cum face micul crocodil
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Cum face micul crocodil
S-arate solzii săi,
Sclipind în unda de pe Nil,
Prin mii de mici scântei?
În gură, fericit îi lasă,
Toţi peştii, ca prieteni vechi,
Să intre şi îi şi înhaţă,

Cu-n zâmbet până la urechi.

Versiune în limba Română
Constantin ROMAN, Londra,
© 2013, Copyright Constantin ROMAN

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (27 January 1832 – 14 January 1898), better known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll , was an English writer, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems “The Hunting of the Snark” and “Jabberwocky”, all examples of the genre of literary nonsense. He is noted for his facility at word play, logic, and fantasy, and there are societies in many parts of the world (including the United Kingdom, Japan, the United States, and New Zealand[3]) dedicated to the enjoyment and promotion of his works and the investigation of his life. (from Wikipedia)

* by Lewis Carroll (1832-1898) [pseudonym] , no title, from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, published 1865
Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)
* by Gary Bachlund , “The Little Crocodile”, 1991, published 1996 [high or medium voice and piano], from “Alice” Songs, no. 2.
* by John Duke (1899-1984) , “The little crocodile”, from Five Lewis Carroll Poems, no. 3.
* by Liza Lehmann (1862-1918) , “How Doth the Little Crocodile”, published 1908 [soprano, contralto, tenor, and bass], from Nonsense Songs: The Songs That Came Out Wrong, no. 1.

Cambridge University: Mond Laboratory, “The Crocodile” by Eric Gill
The artists initials “E.G.” are marked in the animal’s mouth, at the angle of the two jaws.

Pyotr Kapitsa (1894-1984)

Pyotr Kapitsa (1894-1984)

Pyotr Kapitsa(1894-1984), the Russian-born physicist, was Teddy’s contemporary at the Cavendish, in the 1930s: Teddy told me about Kapitsa that “he would bathe naked, in the river Cam, during winter, he was quite an eccentric fellow”. It was Kapitsa’s idea to have the cartoon of a crocodile made in sgraffito, by Eric Gill, on the facade of the Mond Laboratory building, behind Corpus, which opened in 1933: “the Crocodile” was Rutherford’s nickname given to him by Kapitsa.
Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)

Ernest Rutherford (1871-1937)

Here the flamboyant Russian émigré (the first foreigner to be elected an FRS, in 1929) worked on the problem of high magnetic fields and liquid helium.
Kapitsa made his fateful trips to the Soviet Union, before the War, the last one of which Stalin aborted, by not allowing him to return to Cambridge. This was in 1934, but Cambridge was generous to him and sent him, in the Soviet Union, all his equipment, a move they came to regret a decade later, as they thought that during the war Kapitsa would work on the atomic bomb. He worked instead on liquid air and oxygen, which was going to boost the steel production for the war effort. This work on low-temperature physics brought him the Nobel Prize for Physics, in 1978.
It took a good many years, under Krustchev, for the Russian nuclear physicist to be allowed out of Russia again. On his return visit to Cambridge, after some 35 years, Kapitsa would not allow the BBC crew to interview him on television. He acceded to this request only on condition that Teddy would interview him and nobody else. It is during this interview, Teddy told me, that Kapitsa admitted coyly that “the Crocodile” was no other than Rutherford: “in Russia the crocodile is the symbol of the father of the family. But the animal is also regarded with awe and admiration, because it has a stiff neck and never turns its head it just goes straight forward, like science, like Rutherford”. By this time, the nickname was an open secret.
Sir Edward Bullard, FRS (1907-1980) celebrating Constantin Roman's Wedding at Cambridge, 1973, with Molly Wisdom

Sir Edward Bullard, FRS (1907-1980) celebrating Constantin Roman’s Wedding at Cambridge, 1973, with Molly Wisdom

Sir E went to Russia on official trips, as guest of the Soviet Academy of Science. He was also an adviser to the Admiralty and attended as such the Geneva Conference on disarmament in 1958. Teddy was instrumental in bringing together the first specialists in the field of monitoring underground nuclear tests and he regularly attended Pugwash meetings on the subject. During my research at Cambridge I was going to be an indirect beneficiary of this data base in monitoring nuclear tests, when it came to studying the Central Asian earthquakes. During his soviet trips, Teddy had no qualms that his every movement would be followed, every discussion monitored, his hotel room bugged and bathroom fitted with two-way mirrors. Teddy had an extraordinarily mischievous streak: he told me that he would enjoy, on his trips to Moscow, going to his hotel bathroom and making faces in front of the mirror, to poke fun at his minders, “in case it was a two-way mirror”.
extract from:
“Continental Drift” a Cambridge Memoir
Constantin Roman: "Continental Drift"

Constantin Roman: “Continental Drift”


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