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The Hippopotamus -- Hilaire Belloc

(Poem #124) The Hippopotamus
I shoot the Hippopotamus
  With bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
  His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
-- Hilaire Belloc
Belloc has written serious poetry. I might even run some of it sometime. He
has also written a lot of light verse - see poem #78. But he is
certainly best known for his series of children's poems, collected in 'The
Bad Child's Book of Beasts', 'More Beasts for Worse Children' and
'Cautionary Tales'. It was pretty hard choosing among the various poems,
though - I freely admit that you're being subjected to this one merely for
the rhyme :)


Biographical Notes and Assessment:

Belloc, (Joseph-Pierre) Hilaire

 b. July 27, 1870, La Celle-Saint-Cloud, Fr.
 d. July 16, 1953, Guildford, Surrey, Eng.

  French-born poet, historian, and essayist who was among the most versatile
  English writers of the first quarter of the 20th century. He is most
  remembered for his light verse, particularly for children, and for the
  lucidity and easy grace of his essays, which could be delightfully about
  nothing or decisively about some of the key controversies of the Edwardian

  Verses and Sonnets (1895) and The Bad Child's Book of Beasts (1896)
  launched Belloc on his literary career. Cautionary Tales, another book of
  humorous verse for children, which parodied some Victorian pomposities,
  appeared in 1907. His Danton (1899) and Robespierre (1901) proved his
  lively historical sense and powerful prose style. Lambkin's Remains (1900)
  and Mr. Burden (1904) showed his mastery of satire and irony. In The Path
  to Rome (1902) he interspersed his account of a pilgrimage on foot from
  Toul to Rome with comments on the nature and history of Europe. Born and
  brought up a Roman Catholic, he showed in almost everything he wrote an
  ardent profession of his faith. This coloured with occasional inaccuracy
  and overemphasis most of his historical writing, which includes Europe and
  the Faith (1920), History of England, 4 vol. (1925-31), and a series of
  biographies ranging in period from James II (1928) to Wolsey (1930). But
  he had the power of bringing history to life.

        -- EB

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Jean Livingood said...

Being known to one set of grandchildren as "Nana Hippo" I have started a
collection of hippo "things." It now includes books; figurines of wood,
porcelain, crystal, silver, gold, ivory; stuffed animals; cards;
jewelry; and even a recent acquisition of garden stepping stones. This
poem will be added to another crazy children's poem. I love his humor
and rhythm.

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