A second helping as promised…
The Tortoise is, to say the Least,
A very Contradictory Beast.
Though he may walk the wide world o'er
He cannot step outside his Door.
The Slowest Creature 'neath the Sun
He's Noted for a Race he Won.
Ignoblest of Created Things
His Shield has Many Quarterings,
and Lastly, though Devoid of Hair
His Combs are Famous Everywhere.
This noble Beast - But, why discourse
Upon the Virtues of the Horse?
They are too numerous to tell
Save when you have a Horse to Sell.
No Beast has done so much as He
To elevate Society.
How could Society Get on
(Or off), my child, if He were gone?
We owe him Much, yet who can say
He ever asked us to Repay?
Ah, Child! How Bright the World would be,
If Creditors were All as He.
Oh, shun the Crocodile, my child;
He is not Tractable and mild,
Nor like the Dog, the Friend of Man.
He's built upon a Different Plan,
He is not Diffident or Shy,
He will not shrink whey you say "Fie!"
and though he's said Sometimes to Cry,
Be not Responsive to his Wail,
Nor Pat him if he wag his Tail.
This Picture's true to Every Line
Except the Smile. (The Smile is mine.)
This Pleasing Bird, I grieve to own
Is now Extinct. His Soul has Flown
To Parts Unknown, beyond the Styx
To Join the Archoeopteryx.
What Strange, Inexplicable Whim
Of Fate, was it to banish him?
When Every Day the numbers swell
Of Creatures we could spare so well:
Insects that Bite, and snakes that sting,
and many another Noxious Thing.
All these, my Child, had I my Say,
Should be Extinct this very Day.
Then would I send a Special Train
To bring the Do-do back again.
The Devil fish, or Octopus,
Has often been Held Up to us
To typify the Greedy Lusts
Of Grasping Syndicates and Trusts.
This Picture (from an Early print)
Gives us, if true, a Fearful Hint
Of his Great Size, and throws some Light
On his tremendous Appetite.
But let us, Child, whate'er we do,
Give the poor Devil fish his Due!
The Picture, I forgot to say,
Is Quite Untrue in every way.
The Moral's Plain as Plain can be:
Don't believe Everything you See.
Oliver Herford’s Book of Animals
With pictures by the Author.
Published by Bickers & Son, London, 1906.
This one hundred and ten year old book is not in the best of condition. It has been used and enjoyed over the years, and that is what gives it its character. If you would like to know more about Oliver Herford, please see last weeks post here.
Could this be the 'early print' referred to in the Octopus poem?
*Pierre Dénys de Montfort , 1810
Thanks for calling in, have a great week.
*Pierre Dénys de Montfort was a French naturalist, remembered for his pioneering inquiries into the existence of the gigantic octopus. Wikipedia