‘How to Tell Wild Animals’ Notes of the poem ‘How to Tell Wild Animals’ are given here with meanings, stanza-wise summary, central idea, poetic devices and themes. The poem was written by Carolyn Wells. It is a humorous poem which describes some dangerous ways to identify wild animals. The poem talks about many various features of different wild animals.
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How to Tell Wild Animals Notes
The poem How to Tell Wild Animals by Carolyn Wells shows different ways in which we may identify wild animals. She paints a vivid and lively picture of the wildlife before us. Through this poem, the poet educates her readers about various animals and their way of attacking in an interesting way.
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SUMMARY – Stanza Wise
The poet begins the poem by cautioning the readers against the wild animals of the jungle. She further says that if by any chance anybody happens to go to jungles in the east, he is likely to encounter a huge and terrifying animal moving towards him. It is of brownish-yellow colour and it will roar loudly at you. When it roars, you will feel as if you are going to die, because of fear and that is how you will come to know that it is Asian Lion.
In the next stanza, the poet says that one is very likely to be greeted by a noble wild beast while roaming around in the jungle. The wild animal is described to be very majestic and his bright yellow body is covered with shiny black stripes. The poet further says that if one notices this animal and that if he eats you, then the rule is simple to teach you that it is a ‘Bengal Tiger’.
Next, the poet says that if a person is strolling through a forest, he is very likely to encounter a beast with black spots on his body. As soon as this creature will jump on you, in no time, you’ll understand that it is the leopard and he will keep on jumping on you and will tear you apart. Screaming with pain and even shouting or crying will do you no good because he will keep on pouncing on you.
In next stanza, the poet says that while you are walking around your yard, you may meet a creature there. This creature will hug you very tightly and you will come to know that it is a bear. And in case you still have any doubt, the bear will hug you again till you are dead. The bears are known for their hugs and they will hug you so tightly that chances are that you might die.
Further the poet says that it is very confusing and puzzling for a beginner to distinguish between different wild animals. So, next the poet distinguishes between a crocodile and a hyena. The poet says that the hyena laughs when it swallows its prey and that sounds like human laugh. On the other hand when a crocodile eats its prey, it sheds tears. The poet cautions the reader against a hyena’s laugh and a crocodile’s tears.
In the last stanza, the poet describes the small chameleon, which is a small lizard. It doesn’t have ears or wings but if you are unable to notice anything on the tree, it is very likely that there is a chameleon sitting there. A chameleon changes its colour as per its surroundings, which saves it from being prey.
This poem tells us about the different wild animals. The poet explains at length how to recognize the wild animals if we come across them. He suggests the way of differentiating between an Asian lion and a Bengal Tiger. Then he tells us about the leopard, the bear, the hyena and the crocodile. He also tells us about the special qualities of chameleon. The way of the poet for explaining the things is very funny yet interesting. The poet has depicted the wild life very vividly and in a lively manner. While reading the poem it seems that we ourselves are thrown among the wild animals in the jungle. This shows that the poet knows even the smallest details of the wild life and has successfully placed them on paper. It shows his love for these animals and the forests.
- The poet helps the readers to recognise the animals that they may come across.
- A black and yellow striped wild beast can be identified as a Bengal Tiger if he eats you.
- If you happen to find an animal with spots on its back and he leaps and attacks you; then you can call it a leopard.
- One can not only see animals in the jungles but can also meet them in their own backyard.
- You can be sure that it is a bear if he gives you a bear hug.
- If one bear hug isn’t enough, then the second one will definitely crush you to death.
- The poet agrees that it may be difficult for a beginner to differentiate between wild animals.
- However, they can always identify a crocodile because it cries and a hyena because it laughs.
- Finally, the author says that a chameleon is a small lizard with no ears or wings. He can blend with his surroundings.
Tawny—of brown colour, Roar—to growl, Beast— huge animal, Dying—to die with fear, Roam—to wander, Stripes—long narrow bands differing in colour, Noble—of high origin, Discern—perceive clearly, Stroll—walk in leisurely way, Peppered—sprinkled, Forth—forward, Lept—jumped, Hide— skin, Yard—lawn and garden area of house, Creature— animal, Hug—to embrace, Caress—to touch gently, Distinguish—to differentiate, Prey—animal which is hunted for food, Novice—a beginner, Nonplus—completely perplexed and confused, Chameleon—small lizard capable of changing colour, ’Tis—this.
The major theme of this poem is identifying wild animals.
- The poet describes each animal by its physical appearance and personality traits.
- These details help one to associate those characteristics with the described animals and help humans to identify them.
- Through her descriptions, the poet also subtly directs the reader’s attention to the dangerous nature of these animals.
Literary elements: How to tell Wild Animals
A few key literary elements in the poem are:
- Poetic Licence
- Rhyme scheme
- The poet narrates the poem in a humorous tone.
- Her descriptions of how animals like tiger, lion and leopard kill are intended to make us laugh.
- Her statement about a bear hug is also an example of humorous tone employed in the poem.
- The poet makes use of words that repeat the initial consonant sounds in the same line.
- The phrases ‘lep and lep again’, ‘roaming round’, ‘very, very hard’ and ‘novice might nonplus’ are examples of alliteration in the poem.
- In the poem, the ‘hyena’ and ‘crocodile’ have been personified.
- The human qualities of ‘smiling’ and ‘weeping’ have been given to the hyena and crocodile respectively.
The poet has employed poetic licence in her use of language in the poem. In some stanzas, she has shortened words like ‘lept’, ‘lep’, and ‘dyin’.
Also, certain sentences are framed differently in the poem like ‘novice might nonplus’ and ‘if strolling forth, a beast you view’.
With the use of poetic licence, the poet not only maintains the rhyme scheme but also creates a humorous effect in the poem.
The rhyme scheme of the poem is ababcc.
“If strolling forth, a beast you view. a
Whose hide with spots is peppered. b
As soon as he has lept on you. a
You’ll know it is the Leopard. b
‘Twill do no good to roar with pain. c
He’ll only lep and lep again.” c