I cannot understand the short verse or poetry in the beginning of the book. What is it about ? Why does he start with this?
On the surface, Carroll's poetry is mainly gibberish. He uses made-up words to create a rhythm, rhyme, and a light tone. Don't worry if you don't understand everything in the poems.
The poem Jabberwock is about a monster. As a reader, you need to use context clues and your own imagination to decipher whether this is a fierce monster or a misunderstood one.
Carroll wrote for children. His poems have a very pleasing sound when read aloud and children have big imaginations. They tend to be absorbed in the sound of a poem and fill in meanings on their own. In short, he wrote gibberish poems because they are fun to hear.
He probably starts with the poem in order to get his readers into the state of mind necessary for enjoyment of the story. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is off-the-wall and random, very dreamlike. A lot of it doesn't make sense so a reader has to just make that leap into the ridiculous in order to appreciate the story.
Just a side note: Carroll suffered from migraine headaches. This book is the result of dreams that Carroll experienced during a migraine.
Alice Liddell asked Carroll to write the story he told that summer day. It took him approximately two years to do so. He delivered the book to Alice on Christmas day.
The poem in the begginning of the book describes the circumstances of the day the story was created. Carroll and Duckworth were rowing the boat down the river. The three sisters asked Carroll to tell them a story. The oldest daughter,Lorina ("prima"), told him "to begin it." The middle child, Alice ("secunda"), demanded "there be nonse in it!" Edith, the youngest ("tertia") kept interrupting while the story was being told "not more than once a minute."
Carroll created a wonderland through which a "dream-child" wandered and her experiences there. He tired of telling the story, telling the girls he would finish it next time they were together. They insisted that he continue, thereby creating the "tale of Wonderland." They returned home.
Alice Liddell was favored by Lewis Carroll. which is why she became the main character of the story. In the last stanza of the story he tells her to take the story as he wrote it in memory of the day. He wrote it down as she requested, and presented it in memorium to the beautiful day the had so long ago.
***The relationship between Lewis Carroll and the Liddell's had been cut off at some point during the time it took Mr. Carroll to deliver the book. This may account for the sadness apparent in the last stanza.