Hippopotamus


Similiter et omnes revereantur Diaconos, ut mandatum Jesu Christi; et Episcopum, ut Jesum Christum, existentem filium Patris; Presbyteros autem, ut concilium Dei et conjunctionem Apostolorum. Sine his Ecclesia non vocatur; de quibus suadeo vos sic habeo.

S. IGNATII AD TRALLIANOS

And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans.

1 The broad-backed hippopotamus
2 Rests on his belly in the mud;
3 Although he seems so firm to us
4 He is merely flesh and blood.
5 Flesh-and-blood is weak and frail,
6 Susceptible to nervous shock;
7 While the True Church can never fail
8 For it is based upon a rock.

9 The hippo's feeble steps may err
10 In compassing material ends,
11 While the True Church need never stir
12 To gather in its dividends.

13 The 'potamus can never reach
14 The mango on the mango-tree;
15 But fruits of pomegranate and peach
16 Refresh the Church from over sea.

17 At mating time the hippo's voice
18 Betrays inflexions hoarse and odd,
19 But every week we hear rejoice
20 The Church, at being one with God.

21 The hippopotamus's day
22 Is passed in sleep; at night he hunts;
23 God works in a mysterious way --
24 The Church can sleep and feed at once.

25 I saw the 'potamus take wing
26 Ascending from the damp savannas,
27 And quiring angels round him sing
28 The praise of God, in loud hosannas.

29 Blood of the Lamb shall wash him clean
30 And him shall heavenly arms enfold,
31 Among the saints he shall be seen
32 Performing on a harp of gold.

33 He shall be washed as white as snow,
34 By all the martyr'd virgins kist,
35 While the True Church remains below
36 Wrapt in the old miasmal mist.

TS Eliot


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• © 1999-2002 Len Hjalmarson.• Last Updated on October 25, 2002