More Beasts (For Worse Children)
by Hilaire Belloc
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To Miss ALICE WOLCOTT BRINLEY, Of Philadelphia.




The parents of the learned child (His father and his mother) Were utterly aghast to note The facts he would at random quote On creatures curious, rare and wild; And wondering, asked each other:

"An idle little child like this, How is it that he knows What years of close analysis Are powerless to disclose?

Our brains are trained, our books are big, And yet we always fail To answer why the Guinea-pig Is born without a tail.

Or why the Wanderoo[A] should rant In wild, unmeaning rhymes, Whereas the Indian Elephant Will only read The Times.

Perhaps he found a way to slip Unnoticed to the Zoo, And gave the Pachyderm a tip, Or pumped the Wanderoo.

Or even by an artful plan Deceived our watchful eyes, And interviewed the Pelican, Who is extremely wise."

"Oh! no," said he, in humble tone, With shy but conscious look, "Such facts I never could have known But for this little book."

The Python

A Python I should not advise,— It needs a doctor for its eyes, And has the measles yearly.

However, if you feel inclined To get one (to improve your mind, And not from fashion merely), Allow no music near its cage; And when it flies into a rage Chastise it, most severely.

I had an aunt in Yucatan Who bought a Python from a man And kept it for a pet. She died, because she never knew These simple little rules and few;—

The Snake is living yet.

The Welsh Mutton

The Cambrian Welsh or Mountain Sheep Is of the Ovine race, His conversation is not deep, But then—observe his face!

The Porcupine

What! would you slap the Porcupine? Unhappy child—desist! Alas! that any friend of mine Should turn Tupto-philist.[B]

To strike the meanest and the least Of creatures is a sin, How much more bad to beat a beast With prickles on its skin.


[A] Sometimes called the "Lion-tailed or tufted Baboon of Ceylon."

[B] From [Greek: tupto]I strike; [Greek: phileo]I love; one that loves to strike. The word is not found in classical Greek, nor does it occur among the writers of the Renaissance—nor anywhere else.

The Scorpion

The Scorpion is as black as soot, He dearly loves to bite; He is a most unpleasant brute To find in bed, at night.

The Crocodile

Whatever our faults, we can always engage That no fancy or fable shall sully our page, So take note of what follows, I beg. This creature so grand and august in its age, In its youth is hatched out of an egg.

And oft in some far Coptic town The Missionary sits him down To breakfast by the Nile: The heart beneath his priestly gown Is innocent of guile;

When suddenly the rigid frown Of Panic is observed to drown His customary smile.

Why does he start and leap amain,

And scour the sandy Libyan plain

Like one that wants to catch a train,

Or wrestles with internal pain?

Because he finds his egg contain— Green, hungry, horrible and plain— An Infant Crocodile.

The Vulture

The Vulture eats between his meals, And that's the reason why He very, very rarely feels As well as you and I.

His eye is dull, his head is bald, His neck is growing thinner. Oh! what a lesson for us all To only eat at dinner!

The Bison

The Bison is vain, and (I write it with pain) The Door-mat you see on his head

Is not, as some learned professors maintain, The opulent growth of a genius' brain;

But is sewn on with needle and thread.

The Viper

Yet another great truth I record in my verse, That some Vipers are venomous, some the reverse; A fact you may prove if you try,

By procuring two Vipers, and letting them bite;

With the first you are only the worse for a fright,

But after the second you die.

The Llama

The Llama is a woolly sort of fleecy hairy goat, With an indolent expression and an undulating throat Like an unsuccessful literary man.

And I know the place he lives in (or at least—I think I do) It is Ecuador, Brazil or Chili—possibly Peru; You must find it in the Atlas if you can.

The Llama of the Pampasses you never should confound (In spite of a deceptive similarity of sound) With the Lhama who is Lord of Turkestan.

For the former is a beautiful and valuable beast, But the latter is not lovable nor useful in the least; And the Ruminant is preferable surely to the Priest Who battens on the woful superstitions of the East, The Mongol of the Monastery of Shan.

The Chamois

The Chamois inhabits Lucerne, where his habits (Though why I have not an idea-r) Give him sudden short spasms On the brink of deep chasms, And he lives in perpetual fear.

The Frozen Mammoth

This Creature, though rare, is still found to the East Of the Northern Siberian Zone.

It is known to the whole of that primitive group That the carcass will furnish an excellent soup, Though the cooking it offers one drawback at least (Of a serious nature I own):

If the skin be but punctured before it is boiled, Your confection is wholly and utterly spoiled.

And hence (on account of the size of the beast) The dainty is nearly unknown.

The Microbe

The Microbe is so very small You cannot make him out at all, But many sanguine people hope To see him through a microscope. His jointed tongue that lies beneath A hundred curious rows of teeth; His seven tufted tails with lots Of lovely pink and purple spots,

On each of which a pattern stands, Composed of forty separate bands; His eyebrows of a tender green; All these have never yet been seen— But Scientists, who ought to know, Assure us that they must be so. . . . Oh! let us never, never doubt What nobody is sure about!


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