A boat beneath a sunny sky

On the 4th of July 1862 in a rowing boat, the 10-year-old Alice asked Charles Dodgson (a.k.a Lewis Carroll) to entertain her and her sisters Edith and Lorina with a story. Dodgson told the girls stories about a girl named Alice and her adventures after she fell into a rabbit-hole. Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her, and he did so in a few months and eventually gave her the manuscript of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground in 1864.

A boat beneath a sunny sky is a poem by Lewis Carroll that closes his 1871 novel, Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There. The poem is an acrostic with a message hidden in the first letter of each line. The message is a name, her name. The Alice that inspired Charles to write the story: “Alice Pleasance Liddell.”

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 had 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?