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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 as, bs, cs and ds!

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, wondrous word!
The Buceros plicatus bird!
Neer, neer 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 thats the case!

-- base of the beak, inhabiting --
Oh! dictionary, wondrous thing!
-- the Sunda Islands ---- Where would we
Without our dictionary be?

-- Malacca, e-t-c. Thats all!
I let the dictionary fall.
I am replete. All is explained.
Knowledge (its power) is what Ive 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

Ellis Parker Butler's other poems:
  1. New England Magazine
  2. The Ballade of the Automobile
  3. The Rich Boys Christmas
  4. Why I Went to the Foot
  5. Jabed Meeker, Humorist

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