from A Moral Alphabet

By Hilaire Belloc 1870–1953 Hilaire Belloc
D: The Dreadful Dinotherium he   
Will have to do his best for D.   
The early world observed with awe   
His back, indented like a saw.
His look was gay, his voice was strong;   
His tail was neither short nor long;   
His trunk, or elongated nose,
Was not so large as some suppose;   
His teeth, as all the world allows,   
Were graminivorous, like a cow's.
He therefore should have wished to pass   
Long peaceful nights upon the Grass,   
But being mad the brute preferred
To roost in branches, like a bird.1
A creature heavier than a whale,   
You see at once, could hardly fail
To suffer badly when he slid
And tumbled (as he always did).
His fossil, therefore, comes to light
All broken up: and serve him right.

If you were born to walk the ground,
Remain there; do not fool around.

E stands for Egg.   

The Moral of this verse
Is applicable to the Young. Be terse.

K for the Klondyke, a Country of Gold,   
Where the winters are often excessively cold;
Where the lawn every morning is covered with rime,   
And skating continues for years at a time.   
Do you think that a Climate can conquer the grit   
Of the Sons of the West? Not a bit! Not a bit!   
When the weather looks nippy, the bold Pioneers   
Put on two pairs of Stockings and cover their ears,   
And roam through the drear Hyperborean dales   
With a vast apparatus of Buckets and Pails;   
Or wander through wild Hyperborean glades
With Hoes, Hammers, Pickaxes, Mattocks and Spades.   
There are some who give rise to exuberant mirth   
By turning up nothing but bushels of earth,   
While those who have little cause excellent fun   
By attempting to pilfer from those who have none.   
At times the reward they will get for their pains   
Is to strike very tempting auriferous veins;   
Or, a shaft being sunk for some miles in the ground,   
Not infrequently nuggets of value are found.   
They bring us the gold when their labours are ended,   
And we—after thanking them prettily—spend it.

Just you work for Humanity, never you mind   
If Humanity seems to have left you behind.

FOOTNOTES: 1We have good reason to suppose
He did so, from his claw-like toes

Source: Complete Verse (1970)

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Poet Hilaire Belloc 1870–1953



Subjects Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Hilaire  Belloc


Hilaire Belloc is considered one of the most controversial and accomplished men of letters of early 20th-century England. An author whose writings continue to draw either the deep admiration or bitter contempt of readers, he was an outspoken proponent of radical social and economic reforms, all grounded in his vision of Europe as a "Catholic society." Although many critics have attacked Belloc's prescriptive polemical works for . . .

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SUBJECT Humor & Satire



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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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