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

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Comment 15 of 35, 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

Adam from United States
Comment 14 of 35, 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 35, 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 35, 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 35, 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 35, 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
Comment 9 of 35, added on March 27th, 2007 at 9:00 PM.

I believe the message that Eliot is trying to communicate in this poem is
that by working hard all your life, as the Hippo does, and trying even if
you don't succeed, salvation is reached. But, as the church remains in one
spot, has everything brought to it and never lifts a finger, it stays on
the dismal earth. The message is similar to that of Hollow Men and
Prufrock, where the men in question all in fact were soulless because, they
really did nothing with their lives.

Ariela from Canada
Comment 8 of 35, added on March 3rd, 2007 at 12:26 PM.

I believe that Eliot is talking about the establishment versus the body of
believers which I believe to be "The Church." The religious rituals and
practices are those designed by man and many believe these are the ticket
to heaven when in actuality, the
true Church is "wrapt in the poisonous mist."

Barb Gedman from United States
Comment 7 of 35, added on February 26th, 2007 at 4:40 AM.

this is gangsta ja writer i think t.s elliot is simply critisizing how
outdated the church is and in my lastest rymes you can see how i was
inspired by the great ts elliot my homy brother who had the balls to
critisize what was then the most important organizesation of his time i
being a gangsta and all do not agree with his views but repsect him because
he has balls.

JA writer
Comment 6 of 35, added on February 20th, 2006 at 10:53 PM.

I think that the hippo represents someone who is living a hard life and
never knew of god and never could, but he went to heaven. The church is
powerful and great but the church still stays on earth.

James 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: 26151 times
Poem of the Day: Apr 2 2007

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