What is an appropriate Alice in Wonderland quote for a memorial?
November 17, 2008 5:08 PM   Subscribe

Can anyone think of an Alice in Wonderland excerpt appropriate to the funeral of a dear friend?

An old friend passed away after a long and difficult struggle. When we met, she introduced me to her favorite book, Alice in Wonderland, and it became a favorite for me, too. Her family asked that I say a few words at the memorial, and I would like to quote an excerpt from the book, perhaps about friendship... Does anyone have a more immediate familiarity than I do (it's been years) and have a suggestion? Friendship is not the only acceptable topic, but poignant is preferred (no Jabberwocky, please.)

Any other eulogy advice also welcome.

posted by namesarehard to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I don't know if I should mention this, but it was a suicide.
posted by namesarehard at 5:19 PM on November 17, 2008

First let me say how sorry I am for your loss, and for her family. You have my condolences.

Alice is a tough one to take out of context, because so much of the verbal play depends on the paragraphs which surround it. For instance, in the context of a suicide, these may take on an even deeper tinge than the Victorian despair that permeates the book.

Alice: If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would. You see?

Alice: It would be so nice if something made sense for a change.

The King: Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.

Alice: I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think. Was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is 'Who in the world am I?' Ah, that's the great puzzle!

Alice: But it's no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.

Narrator: And she tried to fancy what the flame of a candle is like after the candle is blown out, for she could not remember ever having seen such a thing.

Alice: But I don't want to go among mad people.
The Cat: Oh, you can't help that. We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.
Alice: How do you know I'm mad?
The Cat: You must be. Or you wouldn't have come here.

Again, I'm sorry for your loss, I hope any of those are helpful to you.
posted by dejah420 at 5:36 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Solitude is by Charles Dodgson a.k.a. Lewis Carroll. It's fits decently. I think you'll find that most if not all of Alice is a bit trivial in tone.

Valley Of The Shadow of Death (at the bottom of that page) is long and not entirely related, but the last three stanzas fit very well.

I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by papayaninja at 5:40 PM on November 17, 2008

My deepest sympathies go out to you. The passage that leaps to mind for me would be the opening poem to Through the Looking Glass, which is about hope, friendship, change, loss, and remembrance.

Child of the pure unclouded brow
And dreaming eyes of wonder!
Though time be fleet, and I and thou
Are half a life asunder,
Thy loving smile will surely hail
The love-gift of a fairy-tale.

I have not seen thy sunny face,
Nor heard thy silver laughter:
No thought of me shall find a place
In thy young life’s hereafter--
Enough that now thou wilt not fail
To listen to my fairy-tale.

A tale begun in other days,
When summer suns were glowing--
A simple chime, that served in time
The rhythm of our rowing--
Whose echoes live in memory yet,
Though envious years would say “forget”.

Come, hearken then, ere voice of dread,
With bitter tidings laden,
Shall summon to unwelcome bed
A melancholy maiden!
We are but older children, dear,
Who fret to find our bedtime near.

Without, the frost, the blinding snow,
The storm-wind’s moody madness--
Within, the firelight’s ruddy glow,
And childhood’s nest of gladness.
The magic words shall hold thee fast:
Thou shalt not heed the raving blast.

And, though the shadow of a sigh
May tremble through the story,
For “happy summer days” gone by,
And vanish’d summer glory--
It shall not touch with breath of bale,
The pleasance of our fairy-tale.

The ending passage of the book continues that poem and might be relevant too.

A boat beneath a sunny sky,
Lingering onward dreamily
In an evening of July--

Children three that nestle near,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Pleased a simple tale to hear--

Long has paled that sunny sky:
Echoes fade and memories die.
Autumn frosts have slain July.

Still she haunts me, phantomwise,
Alice moving under skies
Never seen by waking eyes.

Children yet, the tale to hear,
Eager eye and willing ear,
Lovingly shall nestle near.

In a Wonderland they lie,
Dreaming as the days go by,
Dreaming as the summers die:

Ever drifting down the stream--
Lingering in the golden gleam--
Life, what is it but a dream?

posted by CheshireCat at 5:42 PM on November 17, 2008 [11 favorites]

I'm very sorry for your loss.

I think this is a good quote about one's world being turned upside-down suddenly:

'Dear, dear! How queer everything is to-day! And yesterday things went on just as usual. I wonder if I've been changed in the night? Let me think: was I the same when I got up this morning? I almost think I can remember feeling a little different. But if I'm not the same, the next question is, Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle!' And she began thinking over all the children she knew that were of the same age as herself, to see if she could have been changed for any of them.
posted by piratebowling at 5:43 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Depends on the person, depends on her views: "He was part of my dream, of course, but I was part of his dream, too."
posted by dilettante at 5:49 PM on November 17, 2008

I've always been fond of this section:

'Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?'

'That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,' said the Cat.

'I don't much care where--' said Alice.

'Then it doesn't matter which way you go,' said the Cat.

'--so long as I get SOMEWHERE,' Alice added as an explanation.

'Oh, you're sure to do that,' said the Cat, 'if you only walk long
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 6:43 PM on November 17, 2008 [12 favorites]

Best answer: A meeting of two unbelievable people:

'What--is--this?' [the Unicorn] said at last.

'This is a child!' Haigha replied eagerly, coming in front of Alice to introduce her, and spreading out both his hands towards her in an Anglo-Saxon attitude. 'We only found it to-day. It's as large as life, and twice as natural!'

'I always thought they were fabulous monsters!' said the Unicorn. 'Is it alive?'

'It can talk,' said Haigha, solemnly.

The Unicorn looked dreamily at Alice, and said 'Talk, child.'

Alice could not help her lips curling up into a smile as she began: 'Do you know, I always thought Unicorns were fabulous monsters, too! I never saw one alive before!'

'Well, now that we HAVE seen each other,' said the Unicorn, 'if you'll believe in me, I'll believe in you. Is that a bargain?'

'Yes, if you like,' said Alice.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 11:31 PM on November 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

I like the passage from Mrs. Pterodactyl as you can then move on to discuss the things things she achieved in her life to emphasise her time with you and those that loved her.

I'm too am sorry for your loss and I can't even imagine having to write what you are going to write.
posted by micklaw at 5:06 AM on November 18, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you for your empathy. The unicorn passage fits our friendship.
posted by namesarehard at 9:12 AM on November 18, 2008

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