Hilaire Belloc

H
Hilaire Belloc
Charles Augustus Fortescue
The nicest child I ever knew
Was Charles Augustus Fortescue.
He never lost his cap, or tore
His stockings or his pinafore:
In eating Bread he made no Crumbs,
He was extremely fond of sums,
To which, however, he preferred
The Parsing of a Latin Word—
He sought, when it was within his power,
For information twice an hour,
And as for finding Mutton-Fat
Unappatising, far from that!
He often, at his Father’s Board,
Would beg them, of his own accord,
To give him, if they did not mind,
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The Bison
The Bison is vain, and (I write it with pain)
The Door-mat you see on his head
Is not, as some learned professors maintain,
The opulent growth of a genius’ brain;
But is sewn on with needle and thread.
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The Frog
Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’
Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’
Or ‘Gape-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’
Or ‘Billy Bandy-knees’:
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.
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On the Gift of a Book to a Child
Child! do not throw this book about!
Refrain from the unholy pleasure
Of cutting all the pictures out!
Preserve it as your chiefest treasure.

Child, have you never heard it said
That you are heir to all the ages?
Why, then, your hands were never made
To tear these beautiful thick pages!
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The Whale
The Whale that wanders round the Pole
Is not a table fish.
You cannot bake or boil him whole,
Nor serve him in a dish;

But you may cut his blubber up
And melt it down for oil,
And so replace the colza bean
(A product of the soil).
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The Yak
As a friend to the children commend me the Yak.
You will find it exactly the thing:
It will carry and fetch, you can ride on its back,
Or lead it about with a string.

The Tartar who dwells on the plains of Thibet
(A desolate region of snow)
Has for centuries made it a nursery pet,
And surely the Tartar should know!
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Ballade of Modest Confession
My reading is extremely deep and wide;
And as our modern education goes—
Unique I think, and skilfully applied
To Art and Industry and Autres Choses
Through many years of scholarly repose.
But there is one thing where I disappoint
My numerous admirers (and my foes).
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.


I ride superbly. When I say I 'ride'
The word's too feeble. I am one of those
That dominate a horse. It is my pride
To tame the fiercest with tremendous blows
Of heel and knee. The while my handling shows
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Godolphin Horne, Who was Cursed with the Sin of Pride, and Became a Boot-Black
Godolphin Horne was Nobly Born;
He held the Human Race in Scorn,
And lived with all his Sisters where
His Father lived, in Berkeley Square.
And oh! the Lad was Deathly Proud!
He never shook your Hand or Bowed,
But merely smirked and nodded thus:
How perfectly ridiculous!
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Lines to a Don
Remote and ineffectual Don
That dared attack my Chesterton,
With that poor weapon, half-impelled,
Unlearnt, unsteady, hardly held,
Unworthy for a tilt with men—
Your quavering and corroded pen;
Don poor at Bed and worse at Table,
Don pinched, Don starved, Don miserable;
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from A Moral Alphabet
D: The Dreadful Dinotherium he
Will have to do his best for D.
The early world observed with awe
His back, indented like a saw.
His look was gay, his voice was strong;
His tail was neither short nor long;
His trunk, or elongated nose,
Was not so large as some suppose;
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The Rebel
There is a wall of which the stones
Are lies and bribes and dead men's bones.
And wrongfully this evil wall
Denies what all men made for all,
And shamelessly this wall surrounds
Our homesteads and our native grounds.

But I will gather and I will ride,
And I will summon a countryside,
And many a man shall hear my halloa
Who never had thought the horn to follow;
And many a man shall ride with me
Who never had thought on earth to see
High Justice in her armoury.

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Sarah Byng, Who Could Not Read and Was Tossed into a Thorny Hedge by a Bull
Some years ago you heard me sing
My doubts on Alexander Byng.
His sister Sarah now inspires
My jaded Muse, my failing fires.
Of Sarah Byng the tale is told
How when the child was twelve years old
She could not read or write a line.
Her sister Jane, though barely nine,
Could spout the Catechism through
And parts of Matthew Arnold too,
While little Bill who came between
Was quite unnaturally keen
On 'Athalie', by Jean Racine.
But not so Sarah! Not so Sal!
She was a most uncultured girl
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