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Best Famous Hippopotamus Poems

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Written by Marianne Moore | Create an image from this poem

Marriage

 This institution,
perhaps one should say enterprise
out of respect for which
one says one need not change one's mind
about a thing one has believed in,
requiring public promises
of one's intention
to fulfill a private obligation:
I wonder what Adam and Eve
think of it by this time,
this firegilt steel
alive with goldenness;
how bright it shows --
"of circular traditions and impostures,
committing many spoils,"
requiring all one's criminal ingenuity
to avoid!
Psychology which explains everything
explains nothing
and we are still in doubt.
Eve: beautiful woman -- I have seen her when she was so handsome she gave me a start, able to write simultaneously in three languages -- English, German and French and talk in the meantime; equally positive in demanding a commotion and in stipulating quiet: "I should like to be alone;" to which the visitor replies, "I should like to be alone; why not be alone together?" Below the incandescent stars below the incandescent fruit, the strange experience of beauty; its existence is too much; it tears one to pieces and each fresh wave of consciousness is poison.
"See her, see her in this common world," the central flaw in that first crystal-fine experiment, this amalgamation which can never be more than an interesting possibility, describing it as "that strange paradise unlike flesh, gold, or stately buildings, the choicest piece of my life: the heart rising in its estate of peace as a boat rises with the rising of the water;" constrained in speaking of the serpent -- that shed snakeskin in the history of politeness not to be returned to again -- that invaluable accident exonerating Adam.
And he has beauty also; it's distressing -- the O thou to whom, from whom, without whom nothing -- Adam; "something feline, something colubrine" -- how true! a crouching mythological monster in that Persian miniature of emerald mines, raw silk -- ivory white, snow white, oyster white and six others -- that paddock full of leopards and giraffes -- long lemonyellow bodies sown with trapezoids of blue.
Alive with words, vibrating like a cymbal touched before it has been struck, he has prophesied correctly -- the industrious waterfall, "the speedy stream which violently bears all before it, at one time silent as the air and now as powerful as the wind.
" "Treading chasms on the uncertain footing of a spear," forgetting that there is in woman a quality of mind which is an instinctive manifestation is unsafe, he goes on speaking in a formal, customary strain of "past states," the present state, seals, promises, the evil one suffered, the good one enjoys, hell, heaven, everything convenient to promote one's joy.
" There is in him a state of mind by force of which, perceiving what it was not intended that he should, "he experiences a solemn joy in seeing that he has become an idol.
" Plagued by the nightingale in the new leaves, with its silence -- not its silence but its silences, he says of it: "It clothes me with a shirt of fire.
" "He dares not clap his hands to make it go on lest it should fly off; if he does nothing, it will sleep; if he cries out, it will not understand.
" Unnerved by the nightingale and dazzled by the apple, impelled by "the illusion of a fire effectual to extinguish fire," compared with which the shining of the earth is but deformity -- a fire "as high as deep as bright as broad as long as life itself," he stumbles over marriage, "a very trivial object indeed" to have destroyed the attitude in which he stood -- the ease of the philosopher unfathered by a woman.
Unhelpful Hymen! "a kind of overgrown cupid" reduced to insignificance by the mechanical advertising parading as involuntary comment, by that experiment of Adam's with ways out but no way in -- the ritual of marriage, augmenting all its lavishness; its fiddle-head ferns, lotus flowers, opuntias, white dromedaries, its hippopotamus -- nose and mouth combined in one magnificent hopper, "the crested screamer -- that huge bird almost a lizard," its snake and the potent apple.
He tells us that "for love that will gaze an eagle blind, that is like a Hercules climbing the trees in the garden of the Hesperides, from forty-five to seventy is the best age," commending it as a fine art, as an experiment, a duty or as merely recreation.
One must not call him ruffian nor friction a calamity -- the fight to be affectionate: "no truth can be fully known until it has been tried by the tooth of disputation.
" The blue panther with black eyes, the basalt panther with blue eyes, entirely graceful -- one must give them the path -- the black obsidian Diana who "darkeneth her countenance as a bear doth, causing her husband to sigh," the spiked hand that has an affection for one and proves it to the bone, impatient to assure you that impatience is the mark of independence not of bondage.
"Married people often look that way" -- "seldom and cold, up and down, mixed and malarial with a good day and bad.
" "When do we feed?" We occidentals are so unemotional, we quarrel as we feed; one's self is quite lost, the irony preserved in "the Ahasuerus t?te ? t?te banquet" with its "good monster, lead the way," with little laughter and munificence of humor in that quixotic atmosphere of frankness in which "Four o'clock does not exist but at five o'clock the ladies in their imperious humility are ready to receive you"; in which experience attests that men have power and sometimes one is made to feel it.
He says, "what monarch would not blush to have a wife with hair like a shaving-brush? The fact of woman is not `the sound of the flute but every poison.
'" She says, "`Men are monopolists of stars, garters, buttons and other shining baubles' -- unfit to be the guardians of another person's happiness.
" He says, "These mummies must be handled carefully -- `the crumbs from a lion's meal, a couple of shins and the bit of an ear'; turn to the letter M and you will find that `a wife is a coffin,' that severe object with the pleasing geometry stipulating space and not people, refusing to be buried and uniquely disappointing, revengefully wrought in the attitude of an adoring child to a distinguished parent.
" She says, "This butterfly, this waterfly, this nomad that has `proposed to settle on my hand for life.
' -- What can one do with it? There must have been more time in Shakespeare's day to sit and watch a play.
You know so many artists are fools.
" He says, "You know so many fools who are not artists.
" The fact forgot that "some have merely rights while some have obligations," he loves himself so much, he can permit himself no rival in that love.
She loves herself so much, she cannot see herself enough -- a statuette of ivory on ivory, the logical last touch to an expansive splendor earned as wages for work done: one is not rich but poor when one can always seem so right.
What can one do for them -- these savages condemned to disaffect all those who are not visionaries alert to undertake the silly task of making people noble? This model of petrine fidelity who "leaves her peaceful husband only because she has seen enough of him" -- that orator reminding you, "I am yours to command.
" "Everything to do with love is mystery; it is more than a day's work to investigate this science.
" One sees that it is rare -- that striking grasp of opposites opposed each to the other, not to unity, which in cycloid inclusiveness has dwarfed the demonstration of Columbus with the egg -- a triumph of simplicity -- that charitive Euroclydon of frightening disinterestedness which the world hates, admitting: "I am such a cow, if I had a sorrow, I should feel it a long time; I am not one of those who have a great sorrow in the morning and a great joy at noon;" which says: "I have encountered it among those unpretentious proteg?s of wisdom, where seeming to parade as the debater and the Roman, the statesmanship of an archaic Daniel Webster persists to their simplicity of temper as the essence of the matter: `Liberty and union now and forever;' the book on the writing-table; the hand in the breast-pocket.
"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

A Strange Wild Song

 He thought he saw an Elephant
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
"At length I realize," he said, "The bitterness of life!" He thought he saw a Buffalo Upon the chimney-piece: He looked again, and found it was His Sister's Husband's Niece.
"Unless you leave this house," he said, "I'll send for the police!" he thought he saw a Rattlesnake That questioned him in Greek: He looked again, and found it was The Middle of Next Week.
"The one thing I regret," he said, "Is that it cannot speak!" 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!" He thought he saw a Kangaroo That worked a Coffee-mill: He looked again, and found it was A Vegetable-Pill.
"Were I to swallow this," he said, "I should be very ill!" He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four That stood beside his bed: He looked again, and found it was A Bear without a Head.
"Poor thing," he said, "poor silly thing! It's waiting to be fed!"
Written by Lewis Carroll | Create an image from this poem

The Mad Gardeners Song

 He thought he saw an Elephant,
That practised on a fife:
He looked again, and found it was
A letter from his wife.
'At length I realise,' he said, The bitterness of Life!' He thought he saw a Buffalo Upon the chimney-piece: He looked again, and found it was His Sister's Husband's Niece.
'Unless you leave this house,' he said, "I'll send for the Police!' He thought he saw a Rattlesnake That questioned him in Greek: He looked again, and found it was The Middle of Next Week.
'The one thing I regret,' he said, 'Is that it cannot speak!' 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!' He thought he saw a Kangaroo That worked a coffee-mill: He looked again, and found it was A Vegetable-Pill.
'Were I to swallow this,' he said, 'I should be very ill!' He thought he saw a Coach-and-Four That stood beside his bed: He looked again, and found it was A Bear without a Head.
'Poor thing,' he said, 'poor silly thing! It's waiting to be fed!' He thought he saw an Albatross That fluttered round the lamp: He looked again, and found it was A Penny-Postage Stamp.
'You'd best be getting home,' he said: 'The nights are very damp!' He thought he saw a Garden-Door That opened with a key: He looked again, and found it was A Double Rule of Three: 'And all its mystery,' he said, 'Is clear as day to me!' He thought he saw a Argument That proved he was the Pope: He looked again, and found it was A Bar of Mottled Soap.
'A fact so dread,' he faintly said, 'Extinguishes all hope!'
Written by Alec Derwent (A D) Hope | Create an image from this poem

Observation Car

 To be put on the train and kissed and given my ticket, 
Then the station slid backward, the shops and the neon lighting, 
Reeling off in a drunken blur, with a whole pound note in my pocket 
And the holiday packed with Perhaps.
It used to be very exciting.
The present and past were enough.
I did not mind having my back To the engine.
I sat like a spider and spun Time backward out of my guts - or rather my eyes - and the track Was a Now dwindling off to oblivion.
I thought it was fun: The telegraph poles slithered up in a sudden crescendo As we sliced the hill and scattered its grazing sheep; The days were a wheeling delirium that led without end to Nights when we plunged into roaring tunnels of sleep.
But now I am tired of the train.
I have learned that one tree Is much like another, one hill the dead spit of the next I have seen tailing off behind all the various types of country Like a clock running down.
I am bored and a little perplexed; And weak with the effort of endless evacuation Of the long monotonous Now, the repetitive, tidy Officialdom of each siding, of each little station Labelled Monday, Tuesday - and goodness ! what happened to - Friday ? And the maddening way the other passengers alter: The schoolgirl who goes to the Ladies' comes back to her seat A lollipop blonde who leads you on to assault her, And you've just got her skirts round her waist and her pants round her feet When you find yourself fumbling about the nightmare knees Of a pink hippopotamus with a permanent wave Who sends you for sandwiches and a couple of teas, But by then she has whiskers, no teeth and one foot in the grave.
I have lost my faith that the ticket tells where we are going.
There are rumours the driver is mad - we are all being trucked To the abattoirs somewhere - the signals are jammed and unknowing We aim through the night full speed at a wrecked viaduct.
But I do not believe them.
The future is rumour and drivel; Only the past is assured.
From the observation car I stand looking back and watching the landscape shrivel, Wondering where we are going and just where the hell we are, Remembering how I planned to break the journey, to drive My own car one day, to have choice in my hands and my foot upon power, To see through the trumpet throat of vertiginous perspective My urgent Now explode continually into flower, To be the Eater of Time, a poet and not that sly Anus of mind the historian.
It was so simple and plain To live by the sole, insatiable influx of the eye.
But something went wrong with the plan: I am still on the train.
Written by T S (Thomas Stearns) Eliot | Create an image from this poem

The Hippopotamus

  Similiter et omnes revereantur Diaconos, ut mandatum Jesu Christi; et Episcopum, ut
Jesum Christum, existentem filium Patris; Presbyteros autem, ut concilium Dei et
conjunctionem Apostolorum.
Sine his Ecclesia non vocatur; de quibus suadeo vos sic habeo.
S.
Ignatii Ad Trallianos.
And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans.
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 the martyr’d virgins kist, While the True Church remains below Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.
Written by Hilaire Belloc | Create an image from this poem

The Hippopotamus

 Behold the hippopotamus!
We laugh at how he looks to us,
And yet in moments dank and grim,
I wonder how we look to him.
Peace, peace, thou hippopotamus! We really look all right to us, As you no doubt delight the eye Of other hippopotami.
Written by Hilaire Belloc | Create an image from this poem

The Hippopotamus

 I shoot the Hippopotamus
With bullets made of platinum,
Because if I use leaden ones
His hide is sure to flatten 'em.
Written by Ellis Parker Butler | Create an image from this poem

Mouths Of Hippopotami And Some Recent Novels

 (with apologies to Frederic Taber Cooper)

I well recall (and who does not)
The circus bill-board hippopotamus,
whose wide distended jaws
For fear and terror were good cause.
That month, that vasty carmine cave, Could munch with ease a Nubian slave; In fact, the bill-board hippopot- amus could bolt a house and lot! Wide opened, that tremendous mouth Obscured three-quarters of the south Side of Schmidt’s barn, and promised me Thrills, shocks, delights and ecstasy.
And then, alas! what sad non plus The living hippopotamus! ’Twas but a stupid, sodden lump As thrilling as an old elm stump.
Its mouth—unreasonably small— The hippo opened not at all, Or, if it did, it was about As thrilling as a teapot spout.
* * * * * The Crimson Junk, by Doris Watt, I’ve read it.
Who, I pray, has not? Bill Wastel, by C.
Marrow.
The Plaid Cowslip.
And The Hocking Lee.
The Fallow Field, by Sally Loo; The Rose in Chains.
I’ve read that too; I’ve read them all for promised treat Of thrills, emotions, tremblings sweet.
* * * * * The bill-board hippopotamus It was a wild, uprageous cuss— The real one? Well—Can you recall That it had any mouth at all?
Written by Victor Hugo | Create an image from this poem

NOORMAHAL THE FAIR.{1}

 ("Entre deux rocs d'un noir d'ébène.") 
 
 {XXVII., November, 1828.} 


 Between two ebon rocks 
 Behold yon sombre den, 
 Where brambles bristle like the locks 
 Of wool between the horns of scapegoat banned by men! 
 
 Remote in ruddy fog 
 Still hear the tiger growl 
 At the lion and stripèd dog 
 That prowl with rusty throats to taunt and roar and howl; 
 
 Whilst other monsters fast 
 The hissing basilisk; 
 The hippopotamus so vast, 
 And the boa with waking appetite made brisk! 
 
 The orfrey showing tongue, 
 The fly in stinging mood, 
 The elephant that crushes strong 
 And elastic bamboos an the scorpion's brood; 
 
 And the men of the trees 
 With their families fierce, 
 Till there is not one scorching breeze 
 But brings here its venom—its horror to pierce— 
 
 Yet, rather there be lone, 
 'Mid all those horrors there, 
 Than hear the sickly honeyed tone 
 And see the swimming eyes of Noormahal the Fair! 
 
 {Footnote 1: Noormahal (Arabic) the light of the house; some of the 
 Orientals deem fair hair and complexion a beauty.}