Friday, 28 July 2006

On this (yester)day

Author Hilaire Belloc was born on 27 July, 1870, which means that—were he still alive—he'd be 136 and scary. Of course, he's neither. He died on 16 July, 1953.

In between writing his serious works on politics, history and religion, he produced some of the best known whimsical and humorous poetry. Remember 'Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion' and 'Matilda, who told lies and was burned to death'? These were a couple of the unfortunate stars of Belloc's Cautionary Tales. Fine gruesome stuff for kids. He started a trend continued enthusiastically by Roald Dahl.

The Microbe

The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen—
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so ...
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

Hilaire Belloc

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