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The Hippopotamus -- T S Eliot

Guest poem send in by Aseem

The first poem that came to mind for the hippopotamus theme. An old, old
(Poem #846) The Hippopotamus
 The broad-backed hippopotamus
 Rests on his belly in the mud;
 Although he seems so firm to us
 He is merely flesh and blood.

 Flesh and blood is weak and frail,
 Susceptible to nervous shock;
 While the true church can never fail
 For it is based upon a rock.

 The hippo's feeble steps may err
 In compassing material ends,
 While the True Church need never stir
 To gather in its dividends.

 The 'potamus can never reach
 The mango on the mango-tree;
 But fruits of pomegranate and peach
 Refresh the Church from over sea.

 At mating time the hippo's voice
 Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
 But every week we hear rejoice
 The Church, at being one with God.

 The hippopotamus's day
 Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
 God works in a mysterious way -
 The church can sleep and feed at once

 I saw the 'potamus take wing
 Ascending from the damp savannas,
 And quiring angels round him sing
 The praise of God, in loud hosannas.

 Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
 And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
 Among the saints he shall be seen
 Performing on a harp of gold.

 He shall be washed as white as snow,
 By all martyr'd virgins kist,
 While the True Church remains below
 Wrapt in old miasmal mist.
-- T S Eliot
Easily one of the most sarcastic and vicious poems I've ever read - I
specially love the simple, almost childish abab rhyming and the final two
lines with their image of an institution wallowing in eternal stagnation.


On the theme:

Honestly, I never intended this to become a theme :) Yesterday's poem was
more along the lines of an Irresistible Followup (tm), and I was planning to
let it go at that. However, not only did I receive two emails both
suggesting the same poem, I also had someone express the hope that I was not
running a *hippopotamus* theme of all things. Well, with incentive like
that, what could I do? Here's the third hippo poem, and here endeth the



The previous two poems in the theme:

  Poem #844 Oliver Herford, "The Hippopotamus"
  Poem #845 Shel Silverstein, "Recipe for a Hippopotamus Sandwich"

And other Eliot poems on Minstrels:

  Poem #9   "La Figlia Che Piange (The Weeping Girl)"
  Poem #107 "Preludes"
  Poem #193 "The Love Song Of J. Alfred Prufrock"
  Poem #248 "Sweeney Among the Nightingales"
  Poem #258 "Macavity: The Mystery Cat"
  Poem #291 "The Journey of the Magi"
  Poem #354 "The Waste Land (Part IV)"
  Poem #466 "Rhapsody on a Windy Night"
  Poem #532 "Little Gidding"
  Poem #574 "Growltiger's Last Stand"
  Poem #630 "To Walter de la Mare"

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