Hilaire Belloc (27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953 / La Celle-Saint-Cloud)
Introduction: More Beasts for Worse Children
The parents of the learned child
(His father and his mother)
Were utterly aghast to note
The facts he would at random quote
On creatures curious, rare, and wild;
And wondering, ask each other:
'An idle little child like this,
How is it that he knows
What years of close analysis
Are powerless to disclose?
Our brains are trained, our books are big,
And yet we always fail
To answer why the Guinea-pig
Is born without a tail.
Or why the Wanderoo should rant
In wild, unmeaning rhymes,
Whereas the Indian Elephant
Will only read The Times.
Perhaps he found a way to slip
Unnoticed to the Zoo,
And gave the Pachyderm a tip,
Or pumped the Wanderoo.
Or even by an artful plan
Deceived our watchful eyes,
And interviewed the Pelican,
Who is extremely wise.'
'Oh! no,' said he, in humble tone,
With shy but conscious look,
'Such facts I never could have known
But for this little book.'
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