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Two Llamas

August 8, 2016

Two Llamas

The Llama is a wooly sort of fleecy hairy goat,
With an indolent expression and an undulating throat
Like an unsuccessful literary man.
And I know the place he lives in (or at least- I think I do)
It is Ecuador, Brazil or Chile- possibly Peru;
You must find it in the Atlas if you can.
The Llama of the Pampasses you never should confound
(In spite of a deceptive similarity of sound)
With the Llama who is Lord of Turkestan.
For the former is a beautiful and valuable beast,
But the latter is not lovable nor useful in the least;
And the Ruminant is preferable surely to the Priest
Who battens on the woful superstitions of the East,
The Mongol of the Monastery of Shan.

Hillaire Belloc, 1900

COMMENTARY: I’m trying to watch Olympic swimming so I will only say five things about this poem.

1. As an unsuccessful literary man, I myself have (or have been told that I have) an innocent expression and an undulating throat. So that part’s true.

2. Hillaire Belloc was supposedly a brilliant historian but I have no idea what he wrote, except for his exquisite animal jingles.

3. I also don’t know who the Lord of Turkestan is.

4. Monday was Lammas Day (Celtic harvest holiday) which has little to do with llamas.

5. The ruminant indeed is preferable to the priest.

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