Poem of the Week 77

Jim – Who ran away from his Nurse and

was eaten by a Lion

Hilaire Belloc

 

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;

His Friends were very good to him.

They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,

And slices of delicious Ham,

And Chocolate with pink inside

And little Tricycles to ride,

And read him Stories through and through,

And even took him to the Zoo–

But there it was the dreadful Fate

Befell him, which I now relate.

 

You know–or at least you ought to know,

For I have often told you so–

That Children never are allowed

To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;

Now this was Jim’s especial Foible,

He ran away when he was able,

And on this inauspicious day

He slipped his hand and ran away!

 

He hadn’t gone a yard when–Bang!

With open Jaws, a lion sprang,

And hungrily began to eat

The Boy: beginning at his feet.

Now, just imagine how it feels

When first your toes and then your heels,

And then by gradual degrees,

Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,

Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.

No wonder Jim detested it!

No wonder that he shouted “Hi!”

 

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,

Though very fat he almost ran

To help the little gentleman.

“Ponto!” he ordered as he came

(For Ponto was the Lion’s name),

“Ponto!” he cried, with angry Frown,

“Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!”

The Lion made a sudden stop,

He let the Dainty Morsel drop,

And slunk reluctant to his Cage,

Snarling with Disappointed Rage.

But when he bent him over Jim,

The Honest Keeper’s Eyes were dim.

The Lion having reached his Head,

The Miserable Boy was dead!

 

When Nurse informed his Parents, they

Were more Concerned than I can say:–

His Mother, as She dried her eyes, Said,

“Well–it gives me no surprise,

He would not do as he was told!”

His Father, who was self-controlled,

Bade all the children round attend

To James’s miserable end,

And always keep a-hold of Nurse

For fear of finding something worse.

 

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Poem of the Week 24

Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death

Hilaire Belloc

 

Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,

It made one Gasp and Stretch one’s Eyes;

Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,

Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,

Attempted to believe Matilda:

The effort very nearly killed her,

And would have done so, had not she

Discovered this Infirmity.

For once, towards the Close of Day,

Matilda, growing tired of play,

And finding she was left alone,

Went tiptoe to the telephone

And summoned the Immediate Aid

Of London’s Noble Fire Brigade.

Within an hour the Gallant Band

Were pouring in on every hand,

From Putney, Hackney Downs and Bow,

With Courage high and Hearts a-glow.

They galloped, roaring through the Town,

‘Matilda’s House is Burning Down.’

 

Inspired by British Cheers and Loud

Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,

They ran their ladders through a score

Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;

And took Peculiar Pains to Souse

The Pictures up and down the House,

Until Matilda’s Aunt succeeded

In showing them they were not needed;

And even then she had to pay

To get the Men to go away!

 

It happened that a few Weeks later

Her Aunt was off to the Theatre

To see that Interesting Play,

The Second Mrs Tanqueray.

She had refused to take her Niece

To hear this Entertaining Piece:

A Deprivation Just and Wise

To Punish her for Telling Lies.

That Night a Fire did break out—

You should have heard Matilda Shout!

You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,

And throw the window up and call

To People passing in the Street—

(The rapidly increasing Heat

Encouraging her to obtain

Their confidence)—but all in vain!

For every time she shouted, ‘Fire!’

They only answered, ‘Little Liar!’

And therefore when her Aunt returned,

Matilda, and the House, were Burned.