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Poem by Ellis Parker Butler
Soft was the night, the eve how airy, When through the big, fat dictionary I wandered on in careless ease, And read the a’s, b’s, c’s and d’s! But stop! What is this form I see, Beginning with a hump-backed d? I pause! I gasp! I falter there! It is the djolan, I declare! It is the djolan, wond’rous word! The Buceros plicatus bird! Ne’er, ne’er before had I the bliss To meet a djolly word like this! ’Twas djust before my dinner hour -- Well, let the djuicy djoint go sour! Djoyful I read. I djust must see What this strange djolan word may be! Ah! ha! It is a noun! A noun! (A ’’name word” as we say in town) ”E. Ind. The native name of the Year bird.” These are the words I see. ”A hornbill with a white tail and --” The big book trembles in my hand -- ”-- plicated membrane at the base --” Ah, well-a-day! If that’s the case! ”-- base of the beak, inhabiting --” Oh! dictionary, wond’rous thing! ”-- the Sunda Islands ----” Where would we Without our dictionary be? ”-- Malacca, e-t-c.” That’s all! I let the dictionary fall. I am replete. All is explained. Knowledge (it’s power) is what I’ve gained! Soft was the night, the eve how airy, I read no more the dictionary, But Oh! and Oh! my heart was stirred To learn the djolan was a bird!
Ellis Parker Butler
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