Monday, December 17, 2018

Ye Idyll of Ye Hippopopotamus

With a Methodist hymn in his musical throat,
The Sun was emitting his ultimate note;
His quivering larynx enwrinkled the sea
Like an Ichthyosaurian blowing his tea;
When sweetly and pensively rattled and rang
This plaint which an Hippopopotamus sang:

“O, Camomile, Calabash, Cartilage-pie,
Spread for my spirit a peppermint fry;
Crown me with doughnuts, and drape me with cheese,
Settle my soul with a codliver sneeze.
Lo, how I stand on my head and repine—
Lollipop Lumpkin can never be mine!”

Down sank the Sun with a kick and a plunge,
Up from the wave rose the head of a Sponge;
Ropes in his ringlets, eggs in his eyes,
Tip—tilted nose in a way to surprise.
These the conundrums he flung to the breeze,
The answers that Echo returned to him these:

“Cobblestone, Cobblestone, why do you sigh—
Why do you turn on the tears?”

“My mother is crazy on strawberry jam,
And my father has petrified ears.”

“Liverwort, Liverwort, why do you droop—
Why do you snuffle and scowl?”

“My brother has cockle—burs into his eyes,
And my sister has married an owl.”

“Simia, Simia, why do you laugh—
Why do you cackle and quake?”

“My son has a pollywog stuck in his throat,
And my daughter has bitten a snake.”

Slow sank the head of the Sponge out of sight,
Soaken with sea—water—then it was night.
The Moon had now risen for dinner to dress,
When sweetly the Pachyderm sang from his nest;
He sang through a pestle of silvery shape,
Encrusted with custard—empurpled with crape;
And this was the burden he bore on his lips,
And blew to the listening Sturgeon that sips
From the fountain of opium under the lobes
Of the mountain whose summit in buffalo robes
The winter envelops, as Venus adorns
An elephant's trunk with a chaplet of thorns:

“Chasing mastodons through marshes upon stilts of light ratan,
Hunting spiders with a shotgun and mosquitoes with an axe,
Plucking peanuts ready roasted from the branches of the oak,
Waking echoes in the forest with our hymns of blessed bosh,

We roamed—my love and I.
By the margin of the fountain spouting thick with clabbered milk,
Under spreading boughs of bass—wood all alive with cooing toads,
Loafing listlessly on bowlders of octagonal design,
Standing gracefully inverted with our toes together knit,

We loved—my love and I.”
Hippopopotamus comforts his heart
Biting half—moons out of strawberry tart.

--Ambrose Bierce (Don Grile)

No comments: