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  • Writer's picture Gary Bills

Wonderland, Narcissus and the Skink poem.

This is the third of Heather's "Dingle Darwin" pictures, and it owes more to events and characters in my novel, "A Letter for Alice", and less to "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", which was one of my inspirations. It offers another glimpse into the novel's inner life, because it reveals the hot-house forces at work. These are forces which help to drive the plot. The most striking figure here is Percy Narcissus who, in "A Letter for Alice" is both an impoverished gardeners' boy - someone lusted after by Lorina - and an almost sinister 'thought manifestation", or "tulpa", who virtually terrifies and thrills Lorina through his intensity. He is the imagined embodiment of youthful desire; but there are significant differences between the actual Percy Narcissus, who is vain and feminine enough to admire his own girlish reflection in a pail of water, and the boy who emerges as a figment of Lorina's fevered imagination, or as a visitant from the domain of Magic Realism. The real Percy is "fated to play the girl in bed, and never to please the girl", while the tupla is a dominating, masculine force. Percy, then, is both a living Greek Kouros - the classical beautiful boy of uncertain sexuality, and a very masculine Apollo at his most domineering. Speaking of gods - just below Percy is another of my characters - The Skink. In my novel, Dodgson recites a poem about The Skink, and he is accused in public of comparing the lively lizard to God Almighty. Does he really? Well why not decide for yourself? Here is the poem itself, as recited by Dodgson in "A Letter for Alice" -


“Without the Skink we cannot leave

The cottage with its crooked eave,

Without the Skink, the horse won’t run,

Without the Skink, the horse won’t come!

Without the Skink, the cart won’t roll –

Let’s find the Skink and let us go,

To where and why we cannot know,

For there are hats and there are mice

And jelly-wobbles cause us pain,

Until we find the Skink again –

Where can he be, where can he be?

(I fear his absence in my soul

Because, I’m sure, I am not nice.)

I pray the Skink will make me whole –

Oh praise the Skink, above, below,

His face is like a domino –

He’s here, he’s there, he’s everywhere!

We’ve found him now, so let us go....”

Percy Narcissus in the Dingle Darwin garden.

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