Hilaire Belloc

(27 July 1870 – 16 July 1953 / La Celle-Saint-Cloud)

Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death


Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one Gasp and Stretch one's Eyes;
Her Aunt, who, from her Earliest Youth,
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth,
Attempted to Believe Matilda:
The effort very nearly killed her,
And would have done so, had not She
Discovered this Infirmity.
For once, towards the Close of Day,
Matilda, growing tired of play,
And finding she was left alone,
Went tiptoe to the Telephone
And summoned the Immediate Aid
Of London's Noble Fire-Brigade.
Within an hour the Gallant Band
Were pouring in on every hand,
From Putney, Hackney Downs, and Bow.
With Courage high and Hearts a-glow,
They galloped, roaring through the Town,
'Matilda's House is Burning Down! '
Inspired by British Cheers and Loud
Proceeding from the Frenzied Crowd,
They ran their ladders through a score
Of windows on the Ball Room Floor;
And took Peculiar Pains to Souse
The Pictures up and down the House,
Until Matilda's Aunt succeeded
In showing them they were not needed;
And even then she had to pay
To get the Men to go away,
It happened that a few Weeks later
Her Aunt was off to the Theatre
To see that Interesting Play
The Second Mrs. Tanqueray.
She had refused to take her Niece
To hear this Entertaining Piece:
A Deprivation Just and Wise
To Punish her for Telling Lies.
That Night a Fire did break out-
You should have heard Matilda Shout!
You should have heard her Scream and Bawl,
And throw the window up and call
To People passing in the Street-
(The rapidly increasing Heat
Encouraging her to obtain
Their confidence) - but all in vain!
For every time she shouted 'Fire! '
They only answered 'Little Liar! '
And therefore when her Aunt returned,
Matilda, and the House, were Burned.

Submitted: Saturday, April 03, 2010
Edited: Saturday, January 31, 2015

Topic of this poem: lies


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Comments about this poem (Matilda Who told Lies, and was Burned to Death by Hilaire Belloc )

  • Gold Star - 6,230 Points Jayatissa K. Liyanage (1/31/2015 12:35:00 AM)

    Kind of story, heme wise, very familiar with. Yet, a fresh feeling crept up while reading the poem. what ever it is, message is universal and eternal. Never be a liar! Great Poem. (Report) Reply

  • Bronze Star - 2,463 Points John Richter (1/30/2015 12:12:00 PM)

    The boy who cried wolf once too often! Only expressed so magically wonderfully! This is my introduction to Mr. Belloc, which has quickly joined my ranks of favorite poets.... (Report) Reply

    Gold Star - 11,855 Points Kim Barney (1/30/2015 8:16:00 PM)

    John, you and I think a lot alike. Almost every time I want to say something about a poem, you have already said it!

  • Rookie - 9 Points Saumya Gilra (5/24/2013 10:03:00 AM)

    wonderful poem and surprising rhymes.it is a very nice one. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jason Andriezen (4/28/2010 12:29:00 AM)

    in our book. this is called a Humors poem. How can it be a humors poem if matilda dies (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »

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