by: T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
- HE broad-backed
- Rests on his belly in the mud;
- Although he seems so firm to us
- He is merely flesh and blood.
- Flesh-and-blood is weak and frail,
- Susceptible to nervous shock;
- While the True Church can never fail
- For it is based upon a rock.
- The hippo's feeble steps may err
- In compassing material ends,
- While the True Church need never stir
- To gather in its dividends.
- The 'potamus can never reach
- The mango on the mango-tree;
- But fruits of pomegranate and peach
- Refresh the Church from over sea.
- At mating time the hippo's voice
- Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
- But every week we hear rejoice
- The Church, at being one with God.
- The hippopotamus's day
- Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
- God works in a mysterious way--
- The Church can sleep and feed at once.
- I saw the 'potamus take wing
- Ascending from the damp savannas,
- And quiring angels round him sing
- The praise of God, in loud hosannas.
- Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
- And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
- Among the saints he shall be seen
- Performing on a harp of gold.
- He shall be washed as white as snow,
- By all the martyr'd virgins kist,
- While the True Church remains below
- Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.
POEMS BY T.S. ELIOT
"The Hippopotamus" is
reprinted from Poems. T.S. Eliot. New York: Alfred A.