Poets | Poem of the Day | Top 40 | Search | Comments | Privacy
October 10th, 2015 - we have 234 poets, 8,025 poems and 298,706 comments.
Analysis and comments on The Hippopotamus by T.S. Eliot

1 2 [3] 4

Comment 14 of 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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 34, 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
Comment 5 of 34, added on January 27th, 2006 at 9:09 AM.

The poem contrasts earthly realities (flesh and blood, susceptible to
nervous shock) with a false conception of the church as untroubled and
invulnerable. The 'True Church' in this sense is an idol which is left
behind while it is the messy reality that is redeemed. This is certainly a
criticism of hypocrisy and it is reasonable to see it as addressing the
humble and the marginal (not those who think they know who is saved), but I
do not think that one should see the Hippopotamus as non-believers or
isolated individual belivers. In contast to the unreal 'True Church' the
Hippopotamus is surely the church as she actually is - messy and lumbering,
with liturgies which are, in a musical sense, often lacking in harmony or
beauty (think of the ordinary bread and butter church services, not the
occasional splendid celebrations). The poem reminds Christians not to talk
of 'The Church' (or the sma ething could be said of one's country or one's
familly) in a way that is unconnected from reality, or to despair if the
reality seems so much more tedious and humdrum than the supposed ideal. It
is this messy visible reality with boring parish priests, only partly
coverted parishers, disharmony among famillies and 'communities' (another
word that can be used in an idealised way to disguise reality) that God
will redeem. The poem is ultimately positive while using humour to
deconstruct the over-seriousness which gives a distorted view of the true
church and ultimately presents an obstacle to redemption.

David Jones from United Kingdom

This poem has been commented on more than 10 times. Click below to see the other comments.
1 2 [3] 4
Share |

Information about The Hippopotamus

Poet: T.S. Eliot
Poem: 8. The Hippopotamus
Volume: Poems
Year: 1920
Added: Jan 31 2004
Viewed: 26092 times
Poem of the Day: Apr 2 2007

Add Comment

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding this poem better? If they are accepted, they will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.

Do not post questions, pleas for homework help or anything of the sort, as these types of comments will be removed. The proper place for questions is the poetry forum.

Please note that after you post a comment, it can take up to an hour before it is visible on the website! Rest assured that your comment is not lost, so don't enter your comment again.

Comment on: 8. The Hippopotamus
By: T.S. Eliot

Name: (required)
E-mail Address: (required)
Show E-mail Address:
Yes No
Poem Comments:

Poem Info

Eliot Info
Copyright © 2000-2015 Gunnar Bengtsson. All Rights Reserved. Links