How to Tell Wild Animals
By Carolyn Wells
· ‘How to Tell Wild Animals’ is a humorous poem composed by Carolyn Wells, an American poet.
· The poem is humorous in tone and lyrical in form. It is humorous but it suggests some dangerous ways to identify wild animals like Asian lion, Bengal tiger, leopard, bear, hynna, chameleon and crocodile.
· Clever use of vocabulary makes it an interesting poem.
· The poem is composed in 6 stanzas of six lines each rhyming ababcc. Lot of poetic repetition, alliteration and beautiful use of sound poetic devices make it musical, rhythmic and lyrical in nature.
· The poem conveys in a very light hearted manner the essential characteristics and physical features of animals.
· The poem talks about the dangerous ways to identify wild animals humorously. The poet describes wild animals such as Asian lion, Bengal tiger, leopard, bear, crocodile, hyena, and chameleon with their physical features, sounds and other distinct characteristics to distinguish one animal from the other.
· The poem is, though very educative and informative, it is humorous, witty and interesting. The poet suggests some dangerous ways of identifying wild animals presenting adventure and humour.
· The poem tells if someone ever visits the forests and happens to encounter Asian Lion, Bengal tiger or a leopard, he/she’ll be able to identify them by the way they attack upon, but unfortunately by that time the person will be eaten by the animal and be dead. This idea of 'identifying while dying’ is humorous and adventurous.
· The poem also describes a bear that can be identified with its friendly but suffocating 'bear-hug'. A hyena is distinct due to its betraying laugh and a crocodile is known for its fake tears while swallowing its victim.
Poetic Devices :
A large and tawny beast, - Imagery
If he roars at you as you’re dyin’ - Humour, Onomatopoeia
You’ll know it is the Asian Lion... Assonance
With black stripes on a yellow ground, - Imagery
Just notice if he eats you. - Humour
Whose hide with spots is peppered, - Imagery
As soon as he has lept on you, - Repetition, Poetic license
’Twill do no good to roar with pain, - Humour, Assonance, Onomatpoeia
He’ll only lep and lep again - Humour, Poetic license, Repetition
If when you’re walking round your yard - Consonance
Who hugs you very, very hard, - Oxymoron, Repetition, Humour
Be sure it is a Bear. - Alliteration, Assonance
He’ll give you just one more caress. - Humour
A novice might nonplus, - Poetic license
Hyenas come with merry smiles; - Irony, humour
But if they weep they’re Crocodiles - Repetition, Irony, humour
A lizard sort of thing; - Imagery, metaphor
He hasn’t any ears at all, - Alliteration, Imagery
And not a single wing. - Assonance, Imagery
If there is nothing on the tree, - Assonance
’Tis the chameleon you see. - Irony, humour
As soon as he has lept on you,
You’ll know it is the Leopard.
’Twill do no good to roar with pain,
He’ll only lep and lep again
Qa. Do you think the words ‘lept’ and ‘lep’ are spelt correctly? Why does the poet spell them like this?
Ans. No, the words lept and lep are not spelled. the correct spellings are 'leapt' and 'leap'. these words are misspelt to create musical effect and produce sound like leopard.
Qb. Tell the prevailing poetic device used in these four lines.
And. Humour and poetic repetition
Qc. Who will roar in pain? Why?
Ans. The one who encounters a leopard will roar in pain as the leopard will eat him/her.
Qd. Why does the poet describe the animal?
Ans. The poet describes the animals for the readers' information but adding a pinch of humour also describes the condition of the person who happenes to meet the animal in the forest unfortunately though.
Important Question Answers
Q1. Much of the humour in the poem arises from the way language is used, though the ideas are funny as well. Elaborate the examples of humour in the poem.
Ans. The poem is humorous in tone and theme, and the way interesting vocabulary is used by the poet. It is hilarious when the poet suggests some dangerous ways to identify wild animals like Asian lion, Bengal tiger, leopard, bear, hynna, chameleon and crocodile. He tells if someone ever visits the forests and happens to encounter Asian Lion, Bengal tiger or a leopard, he/she’ll be able to identify them by the way they attack, but unfortunately by that time the person will be eaten by the animal and be dead. This idea of identifying them while dying is humorous and adventurous.
The description of bear that can be identified with its friendly but suffocating hug is quite amusing. The hyena's betraying laugh and crocodile's fake tears while swallowing its victim are yet another example of wit and humour.
· Clever use of vocabulary makes it an interesting poem. Use of the words 'lep', 'lept' and 'nonplus' and 'lizard sort of thing' tickles us heartily.