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Analysis and comments on The Hippopotamus by T.S. Eliot

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Comment 19 of 29, added on June 21st, 2009 at 12:10 AM.

I believe that the whole poem mocks the earthly church, what it stands for
and its hipocrasy.

While the hippo struggles the church rakes in its "dividents". The church
imports and has access to fruit that the hippo has no access to.

We are then given the slightly ridiculous image of the hippo ascending into
heaven and being washed clean and white. Even the fact of a hippo being in
a poem about the church is slightly rediculous.

Still, the hippo ascends into heaven while the greedy church remains earth
bound. We are therby shown who is the more worthy of the two.

jacqueline from United Kingdom
Comment 18 of 29, added on April 23rd, 2009 at 1:21 PM.

i think eliots poem was written during a time where he was at odds with the
church.he seems to still believe in god at this point but does not agree
with the man created church. in his eyes those who will reach true
salvation are the ones that "like the hippo" struggle and suffer.

karina from Ireland
Comment 17 of 29, added on February 1st, 2009 at 10:16 AM.

I see this marvelous poem as written while the atheist, T.S. Elliot, was
struggling with his concept of the Christian Church. He saw the living
Church as unwieldy and as ugly as the hippo emersed in damp savannahs and
contrasted it with 'the true church' which exists only in the world of
ideals. In a vibrant sense Eliot was seeing the living reality of the
homely, ungainly Church of God as contrasted with the ideal that is so
often promoted by religion and the world alike.

Harlan Bemis from United States
Comment 16 of 29, added on December 18th, 2008 at 3:51 PM.

In this poem there are three terms to know:

Hippo - Life
Church - Christianity
True Church - Death

The rest should be self-explanitory.

Jason Fascio from United States
Comment 15 of 29, added on December 1st, 2008 at 11:29 PM.

This poem has been very hard for me to interpret. Eliot states that the
hippo seems so "firm" to us yet is only flesh and blood. This leads me to
understand that there must be some position of power or athourity held, but
we must realize that he is merely flesh and blood (like us). I think that
the hippo represents Eliot himself as he views himself as strong in others
eyes, but he is admitting that he is weak. Weak even in comparison to the
church that beats upon him its truths. However, in the holiness and
eagerness of his own heart, he feels that in his malcomparison to the
church, his last days will bring him glory. It seems the church has taught
him strongly that they were the truth. It had put so much on him that he
felt inadequate in its presence, and the things he did alone could never
measure up. However again, by doing his best, he could one day be washed
clean of his wrongs, where the Church would still sit and remain where it
has always been. It still leaves me wondering if it was the old and firm
ways of the church that built his tolerance, or if the church was something
that should have been avoided altogether. Leaving the church in an old
miasmal mist leaves me to believe at least that it will rot in its forceful
instead of helpful ways of old. There is, even more today than ever, a
strong forcing on people of almost every religion. If one would help the
hippo learn to get a mango, or help him/her reach it and pull it down for
him/her It may be viewed as a united source rather than a compared
opponent.

Adam from United States
Comment 14 of 29, added on November 12th, 2008 at 7:37 PM.

I think the Hippo represents the behemoth from the Hebrew's "Book of Job"
which is a holy figure to them. The last two stanzas make me think God
killed the Hippo, which the Hebrew people believed was the only person who
could kill the behemoth. When the behemoth dies, God would use it's skin to
build shelters for the righteous. The world the righteous are living in is
a horrible place, as said in the final line "Wrapt in the old miasmal mist"
so the hippo died so the people could live, but they'd rather be dead to be
with their God. He gave to them, even though they didn't really want it.
That's what I got out of it.

Michael from United States
Comment 13 of 29, added on October 10th, 2008 at 9:00 AM.

D poem have a striking sense which is Humour.There is a contrast between
the Hippo and d church.The contrast begins in line seven;'WHILE THE TRUE
CHURCH CAN NEVER FAIL'This poem is a satire and a praise poem.The hippo
represent the sgmple,sincere,strungling and hard working peaple.the church
is blind,hence d poet descria it as a miasmal mist.

Jacob owen from Nigeria
Comment 12 of 29, added on May 9th, 2007 at 9:51 AM.

definitly a poem open to interpretation. personally, i believe it revolves
around the idea that the Church is not prejudice and welcomes all walks of
life and is a very rewarding experience.

jackielee from Australia
Comment 11 of 29, added on April 5th, 2007 at 5:26 AM.

note that TS Eliot turned Anglican 10 yrs after this poem was published

Debbie from United States
Comment 10 of 29, added on April 1st, 2007 at 10:15 PM.

I believe the poem shows how, the hippo, any human, is frail and shall die,
be forgotten, while ideas, in this case the Christian religion, is forever
there,engraved, while the people who use it change. The last two stanzas
give an interesting twist, that though humans are forgotten, they can break
loose from humanity for that reason, allowing them to be then, above that
idea, stuck below. maybe, just a thought.

human from United States

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Information about The Hippopotamus

Poet: T.S. Eliot
Poem: 8. The Hippopotamus
Volume: Poems
Year: 1920
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 25076 times
Poem of the Day: Apr 2 2007


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