(with apologies to Frederic Taber Cooper)

I well recall (and who does not)
The circus bill-board hippopotamus,
whose wide distended jaws
For fear and terror were good cause.

That month, that vasty carmine cave,
Could munch with ease a Nubian slave;
In fact, the bill-board hippopot-
amus could bolt a house and lot!

Wide opened, that tremendous mouth
Obscured three-quarters of the south
Side of Schmidt’s barn, and promised me
Thrills, shocks, delights and ecstasy.

And then, alas! what sad non plus
The living hippopotamus!
‘Twas but a stupid, sodden lump
As thrilling as an old elm stump.

Its mouth-unreasonably small-
The hippo opened not at all,
Or, if it did, it was about
As thrilling as a teapot spout.

* * * * *

The Crimson Junk, by Doris Watt,
I’ve read it. Who, I pray, has not?
Bill Wastel, by C. Marrow. The
Plaid Cowslip. And The Hocking Lee.

The Fallow Field, by Sally Loo;
The Rose in Chains. I’ve read that too;
I’ve read them all for promised treat
Of thrills, emotions, tremblings sweet.

* * * * *

The bill-board hippopotamus
It was a wild, uprageous cuss-
The real one? Well-Can you recall
That it had any mouth at all?

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ellis Parker Butler's poem Mouths Of Hippopotami And Some Recent Novels

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