Treasure Island

Patrick Barrington

(1908-1990 / Great Britain)

I Had A Hippopotamus


I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed
And fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread
I made him my companion on many cheery walks
And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalk

His charming eccentricities were known on every side
The creatures' popularity was wonderfully wide
He frolocked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles
Who could not but remark on his hippopotamuscles

If he should be affected by depression or the dumps
By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps
I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain
He was hippopotamasticating properly again

I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend
But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end
Time takes alas! our joys from us and rids us of our blisses
My hippopotamus turned out to be a hippopotamisses

My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
She did not want a colony of hippotami
She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

My house now lacks that glamour that the charming creature gave
The garage where I kept him is now as silent as the grave
No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners
His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners

No longer now he gambols in the orchards in the spring
No longer do I lead him through the village on a string
No longer in the morning does the neighbourhood rejoice
To his hippopotamusically-modulated voice.

I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth
Is constant in its happines or lasting in its mirth
No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother
My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Monday, July 07, 2014

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  • Nigel Shaw (1/9/2012 7:43:00 PM)

    Here's the version from the British Rhyme and Rhythm series.

    I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed
    I fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread
    I made him my companion on many cheery walks
    And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalks

    His charming eccentricities were known on every side
    The creature’s popularity was wonderfully wide
    He frolicked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles
    Who could not but remark upon his hippopotamuscles

    If he should be afflicted by depression or the dumps
    By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps
    I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain
    He was hippopotamasticating properly again

    I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend
    But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end
    Time takes alas! our joys from us and robs us of our blisses
    My hippopotamus turned out a hippopotamisses

    My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
    She did not want a colony of hippopotami
    She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
    And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

    My house now lacks the glamour that the charming creature gave
    The garage where I kept him is as silent as the grave
    No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners
    His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners

    No longer now he gambols in the orchards in the spring
    No longer do I lead him through the village on a string
    No longer in the mornings does the neighbourhood rejoice
    To his hippopotamusically-modulated voice

    I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth
    Is constant in its happiness or lasting in its mirth
    No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother
    My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother (Report) Reply

  • J. Chiaravalloti (7/18/2007 11:05:00 AM)

    And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalk (chalks)
    if he should be affected by depression or the dumps (and should he be)
    By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps (lose the 'the')
    I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain (I would nurse him tenderly and leave him only when,)
    He was hippopotamasticating properly again
    Time takes alas! our joys from us and rids us of our blisses (Nature takes our joys from us and robs us of.....)

    My landlady regarded her

    No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners (No longer does he display)

    No longer now he gambles in the orchards in the spring (No longer does he gambol in...)

    To his hippopotamusically-meditated voice (modulated)

    I learned this song from a British Bermudan in 1954 (I'd hum the tune if I could) . The changes I have suggested come from his version. (Report) Reply

  • Natalie Coke-wallis (6/27/2007 7:18:00 PM)

    I am so overjoyed to find this poem on the web. I absolutely adored it as a child and made a little pink pillow with a grey velvet hippopotamus sewn onto it in honour of this adorably witty but sad poem. I think all children should read more innocent fun poems like this. Thank you poemhunter.com for publishing it for me as I could only remember half of the verses... boo hoo. Natalie Coke-Wallis (Report) Reply

Read all 3 comments »

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