Poetry, VOLUME 8

Carolyn Wells – How to Know the Wild Animals [Poem]


How to Know the Wild Animals
Carolyn Wells

If ever you should go by chance
To jungles in the East,
And if there should to you advance
A large and tawny beast–
If he roar at you as you’re dyin’,
You’ll know it is the Asian Lion.
If, when in India loafing round,
A noble wild beast meets you,
With dark stripes on a yellow ground,
Just notice if he eats you.
This simple rule may help you learn
The Bengal Tiger to discern.

When strolling forth, a beast you view
Whose hide with spots is peppered;
As soon as it has leapt on you,
You’ll know it is the Leopard.
‘T will do no good to roar with pain,
He’ll only lep and lep again.
If you are sauntering round your yard,
And meet a creature there
Who hugs you very, very hard,
You’ll know it is the Bear.
If you have any doubt, I guess
He’ll give you just one more caress.
Whene’er a quadruped you view
Attached to any tree,
It may be ’tis the Wanderoo,
Or yet the Chimpanzee.
If right side up it may be both,
If upside down it is the Sloth.
Though to distinguish beasts of prey
A novice might nonplus;
Yet from the Crocodile you may
Tell the Hyena, thus:
‘Tis the Hyena if it smile;
If weeping, ’tis the Crocodile.
The true Chameleon is small–
A lizard sort of thing;
He hasn’t any ears at all
And not a single wing.
If there is nothing on the tree
‘Tis the Chameleon you see.


– Source, The Wit and Humor of America, Vol 4, (c) 1911
Available as a FREE ebook, via Project Gutenberg.


C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com

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