Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Saturday, September 8, 2012

Jim


Words are amazing.
Descriptive.
Alliterative.
Explanatory.
Lyrical.
Adventurous.
Romantic.
I love words.
I learned at a very early age that they could be assembled in ways that were truly magical.
Let me explain . . .
My Dad loves to recite.
Poems, mostly.
On long car trips, he would inevitably break into song.
Or verse.
So to speak.
I especially loved the rhythm of his chosen poetry.
Always there was a story involved.
The telling was truly magical.
I determined that, when I grew up, I would be JUST LIKE DAD.
When I was five, my oldest sister, then just entering junior high, was labouring over a Language Arts assignment.
Memorizing a poem.
She had chosen, for her effort, the Hillaire Belloc poem, Jim.
A cautionary tale of a boy who runs away from his nurse at the zoo and is eaten by a lion.
What better poem for a young girl to start with?
As my sister laboured over the lines, so did I.
I should probably point out, here, that I couldn't read yet.
My patient sister rehearsed each line to me until I had it.
I should also mention that I really didn't understand what I was saying.
Apart from the whole “boy eaten by a lion” bit.
I followed her around for days.
“What's the next line, Chris?”
She would tell me.
And I would repeat it, ad infinitum, for hours.
Or until Chris got home from school and gave me another.
I'm sure my mother heard, “And gave him tea and cakes and jam and slices of delicious ham” in her dreams.
Moving on . . .
By the end of a week, I had it.
All of it.
Then, the fun began.
For months afterwards, my parents would trot me out at family reunions and local bridge parties to show how their young daughter could recite heart-stopping tales of misbehaviour and woe.
In perfect rhyme.
It could only lead to a career in writing.
Or maybe some 'zombie apocalypse/end of the world scenario.
Hmm. Maybe both . . .

For your pleasure –

Jim 
 By Hillaire Belloc

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo—
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know—or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so—
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when—Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,
``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:—
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, ``Well—it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!''
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

P.S. I can still remember it . . .



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10 comments:

  1. I remember you and Chris reciting that ad-nauseum. Trouble is, I often refer to the odd line from it while discussing something else. I've often tried a little poetry myself although my endeavors are somewhat reminiscent of what you might read on the latrine walls. However, I did submit an 8 line poem to AC-Delco in a contest promoting--- AC-Delco. I won my IBM computer which I still have. I often joke that I was the only one who entered the contest.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's the trouble with verse. It sticks in your head! And your poetry is fantastic. More reminiscent of Mad Magazine than . . . oh, wait . . .

      Delete
  2. That is a long poem......did you recite it with gestures and facial expressions to match?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember doing the claws. When the lion sprang. And teeth. Lots of teeth.

      Delete
  3. That's awesome Diane, I loved words and reading, it gave me an outlet to get lost in when it was tough at home. I would find a book and curl up in a big chair and just read for hours, I LOVED it<3


    I think that is so cool that you memorized that at such a really young age :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Launna! I still escape into books when life gets tough. When I put the book down, it's like I've been away somewhere else. Taking a break . . . :)

      Delete
  4. Wow! I had almost forgotten this! Thanks for reminding me!
    Love,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You were a very patient teacher. I remember following you to the shower and having you shout lines out to me while I waited for you. Good times! :)

      Delete
  5. What a cautionary tale within a frightening poem for kids! It must have been amusing to see you as a little one reciting about a bad boy being eaten by a lion.
    Congrats on your newest book!!

    ReplyDelete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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