Iumbo, or, Ye Kind of Oliphaunt

Natura iumbonis.

The Indic oliphaunt’s a burly lump,
A moving mountain, a majestic mammal
(But those that fancy that he wears a hump
Confuse him incorrectly with the camel).
His pendulous ears they flap about like flannel;
He trails a supple elongated nose
That twixt his tusks of pearly-white enamel
Performs the functions of a rubber hose
Or vacuum cleaner as his needs impose,

Or on occasion sorves in trumpet’s stead,
Whose fearful fanfares utterly surpass
In mighty music from his monstrous head
The hollow boom of bells or bands of brass.
Nor do these creatures quarrel (as alas!
Do neighbours musical in Western lands);
In congregations do they tramp the grass,
And munch the juicy shoots in friendly bands,
Till not a leaf unmasticated stands.

This social soul one unconvivial flaw
Has nonetheless: he’s poor in repartee,
His jests are heavy, for Mohammed’s law
He loves, and though he has the thirst of three,
His vast interior he fills with tea.
Not thus do water-drinkers vice escape,
And weighty authors state that privily
He takes a drug, more deadly than the grape,
Compared with which cocaine’s a harmless jape.

The dark mandragora’s unwholesome root
He chews with relish secret and unholy,
Despising other pharmaceutic loot
(As terebinth, athanasie, or moly).
Those diabolic juices coursing slowly
Do fill his sluggish veins with sudden madness,
Changing his grave and simple nature wholly
To a lamb titanic capering in gladness,
A brobdingnagian basilisk in badness.

The vacuous spaces of his empty head
Are filled with fires of fell intoxication;
His legs endure no longer to be led,
But wander free in strange emancipation.
Then frightful fear amid his exaltation
Awakes within him lest he tumble flat,
For apparatus none for levitation
Has he, who falling down must feebly bat
The air with legs inadequate and fat.

Then does he haste, if he can coax his limbs,
To some deep silent water or dark pool
(Where no reptilian mugger lurks or swims)
And there he stands — no! not his brow to cool,
But thinking that he cannot fall; the fool,
Buoyed by his belly adipose and round.
Yet if he find no water, as a rule,
He blindly blunders thumping o’er the ground,
And villages invades with thunderous sound.

If any house oppose his brutish bump,
Then woe betide — it crumples in a heap,
Its inmates jumbled in a jellied lump
Pulped unexpecting in imprudent sleep.
When tired at last, as tame as any sheep
Or jaded nag, he longs for sweet repose,
In Ind a tree, whose roots like serpents creep,
Of girth gigantic opportunely grows,
Whereon to lean his weary bulk and doze.

Thus will his dreams not end in sudden jerk,
He thinks. What hopes! For hunters all to well
Acquainted with his little habits lurk
Beneath the Upus’ shade; a nasty sell
For Oliphas they plan, his funeral knell.
With saws they wellnigh sever all the bole,
Then cunning prop it, that he may not tell,
Until thereto he trusts his weight, poor soul —
It all gives way and lands him in a hole.


The doctrine that these mournful facts propound
Needs scarcely pointing, yet we cannot blink
The fact that some still follow base Mahound,
Though Christian people universally think
That water neat is hardly fit to drink.
Not music nor fat feeding make a feast
But wine, and plenty of it. Good men wink
At fun and frolic (though too well policed)
When mildly canned or innocently greased;
But those whose frenzy’s root is drugs not drink
Should promptly be suppressed and popped in clink.


Иумбо, или Тоз вид земеслон

Натура иумбонис.

Индийският земеслон е канара подвижна
величав бозайник, истинска върлина
(Има гърбица, и още страшна сила,
но пък често го объркват със камила).


„Иумбо, или вид Земеслонъ” —
„Приключения из неестествознанието и средновековните поетични стъпки, бидейки приумици на Физиологиус”.

В „Списание Стейпълдън”, Оксфорд, том 7, № 40 (юни 1927), стр. 125–127.

Въпреки своето заглавие, поемата няма почти никакво отношение поемата „Земеслон” в „Приключенията на Том Бомбадил”.