Adding to our regular army of hippopotami...
(Poem #844) The Hippopotamus
"Oh, say, what is this fearful, wild, Incorrigible cuss?" "This *creature* (don't say 'cuss,' my child; 'Tis slang)--this creature fierce is styled The Hippopotamus. His curious name derives its source From two Greek words: hippos--a horse, Potamos--river. See? The river's plain enough, of course; But why they called *that* thing a *horse*, That's what is Greek to me."
There's something about hippopotamuses that appeals to writers of humorous verse, particularly children's verse. Whether it's the comical aspect of the beast itself, or the delightfully long and euphonious word 'hippopotamus', or both, the fact remains that the beast has worked its way into a number of poems, ranging from Carroll's  He thought he saw a Banker's Clerk Descending from the bus: He looked again, and found it was A Hippopotamus: "If this should stay to dine," he said, "There won't be much for us!" to Flanders' bold hippopotamus on the banks of the Shalimar, and almost always for comic effect. Today's poem is a pleasant if not outstanding example of the genre. The punch line works - though the 'Greek to me' line loses a bit from having been done to death - but the poem itself does not really rely on it for a make-or-break effect. The poem is instead cheerfully and trippingly humorous throughout - indeed, my favourite bit is the parenthetical admonishment in the third and fourth lines. And, as some of the best children's poems are, it is (almost as an afterthought) educational as well - if you didn't know the etymology of 'hippopotamus' you do now <g>. Biographical Snippet: Oliver Herford (1863-1935) English-born American poet, illustrator, and wit; published over 50 volumes of light verse and prose -- Poets' Corner http://www.geocities.com/spanoudi/poems/poem-gh.html#herford In the United States an older generation of humorists somewhat of the upper-class Punch style lingered briefly after World War I. Of such were Oliver Herford, whose Alphabet of Celebrities and other comic verses with pictures were published as small books; Peter Newell, whose highly original Slant Book, Hole Book, etc., had a sharp eye to late prewar costume, and Gelett Burgess, whose Goops for children were spaghetti-like little figures whose behaviour illustrated a moral. (See Burgess, Gelett.) -- EB (which had no entry on the man himself) Links:  poem #265 (Does anyone read Sylvie and Bruno these days? Painful in places, but worth at least one readthrough, IMO)  [broken link] http://timothyplatypus.tripod.com/FaS/hat_hippo.html And the other hippo poem we've run on Minstrels: poem #124 -martin