Chapter & Verse

A correspondence corner for not-so-lost words

Joel Bresler seeks early uses of "Drinking Gourd" by African Americans as a name for the Big Dipper. He writes that the song "Follow the Drinking Gourd," first published in 1928, is said to have been used by the Underground Railroad (runaway slaves were supposedly told to "follow the drinking gourd" constellation north to freedom), but he has been unable to find earlier examples in slave testimonies or elsewhere.


"'Twas brillig and the Swastikoves" (March-April 1997). J.M. Sykes has identified a long-sought "Jabberwocky" parody as "Grabberwochy," by Michael Barsley, printed in Poets at Play (Methuen, 1942), an anthology by Cyril Alington, then dean of Durham Cathedral. The correct opening of this anti-Nazi version runs: "'Twas Danzig, and the Swastikoves/Did heil and hittle in the reich...." A slightly different text appears at


Send inquiries and answers to "Chapter and Verse," Harvard Magazine, 7 Ware Street, Cambridge 02138.

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