Soft was the night, the eve how airy,
When through the big, fat dictionary
I wandered on in careless ease,
And read the a’s, b’s, c’s and d’s!

But stop! What is this form I see,
Beginning with a hump-backed d?
I pause! I gasp! I falter there!
It is the djolan, I declare!

It is the djolan, wond’rous word!
The Buceros plicatus bird!
Ne’er, ne’er before had I the bliss
To meet a djolly word like this!

‘Twas djust before my dinner hour —
Well, let the djuicy djoint go sour!
Djoyful I read. I djust must see
What this strange djolan word may be!

Ah! ha! It is a noun! A noun!
(A ”name word” as we say in town)
“E. Ind. The native name of the
Year bird.” These are the words I see.

“A hornbill with a white tail and –”
The big book trembles in my hand —
“– plicated membrane at the base –”
Ah, well-a-day! If that’s the case!

“– base of the beak, inhabiting –”
Oh! dictionary, wond’rous thing!
“– the Sunda Islands —-” Where would we
Without our dictionary be?

“– Malacca, e-t-c.” That’s all!
I let the dictionary fall.
I am replete. All is explained.
Knowledge (it’s power) is what I’ve gained!

Soft was the night, the eve how airy,
I read no more the dictionary,
But Oh! and Oh! my heart was stirred
To learn the djolan was a bird!

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ellis Parker Butler's poem Djolan

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