A few days ago, while chatting with a bestie from Zimbabwe, a line from a poem we had studied in school floated into my head – ‘…hide of a deer and eyes of a baby calf…’. We had been casually chatting about giraffes – as one does – and agreed it was the perfect description for this noble creature.
Back when I started this blog, I did try to recall all the poems I had studied (SCHOOL DAYS OVER) but just couldn’t find the texts for the few I could remember the names of online and had none of the text books at my disposal.
And then I forgot all about it – if I couldn’t track them down in the mid 00’s, I’d hardly be able to track down a poem from the mid-90’s now!
Hide of a leopard and hide of a deer
And eyes of a baby calf,
Sombre and large and crystal clear,
And a comical back that is almost sheer
Has the absurd giraffe.
A crane all covered with hide and hair
Is the aslant giraffe,
So cleverly mottled with many a square
That even the jungle is unaware
Whether a pair or a herd are there,
Or possibly one giraffe,
Or possibly only half.
If you saw him stoop and straddle and drink
He would certainly make you laugh,
He would certainly make you laugh, I think
With his head right down on the water’s brink,
Would the invert giraffe,
The comical knock-kneed, angular, crock-kneed,
There’s more than a grain of common sense
And a husky lot of chaff
In the many and various arguments
About the first giraffe,
The first and worst giraffe;
Whether he grows a neck because
He yearned for the higher shoots
Out of the reach of all and each
Of the ruminating brutes;
Or whether he got to the shoots because
His neck was long, if long it was,
Is the cause of many disputes.
Over the ladder without any rungs,
The stopper-like mouth and the longest of tongues
Of the rum and dumb giraffe,
The how-did-you-come giraffe,
The brown equatorial, semi-arboreal
by Geoffrey Dearmer
I have a very soft spot for Giraffes, so am delighted to reacquaint myself with this lovely cheery poem.
If any Zimbo’s happen to be reading who remember other titles, poets or line from our ZJC/O level poetry courses, I’d love to hear from you!