I Had A Hippopotamus

I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed
And fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread
I made him my companion on many cheery walks
And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalk

His charming eccentricities were known on every side
The creatures' popularity was wonderfully wide
He frolocked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles
Who could not but remark on his hippopotamuscles

If he should be affected by depression or the dumps
By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps
I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain
He was hippopotamasticating properly again

I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend
But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end
Time takes alas! our joys from us and rids us of our blisses
My hippopotamus turned out to be a hippopotamisses

My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye
She did not want a colony of hippotami
She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy
And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy

My house now lacks that glamour that the charming creature gave
The garage where I kept him is now as silent as the grave
No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners
His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners

No longer now he gambols in the orchards in the spring
No longer do I lead him through the village on a string
No longer in the morning does the neighbourhood rejoice
To his hippopotamusically-modulated voice.

I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth
Is constant in its happines or lasting in its mirth
No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother
My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother

by Patrick Barrington

Comments (7)

At last I have found the “hippo” poem that I studied for at o’level, back in the seventies. A very sad poem!
A joy to find this, haven't seen it in years. Could remember most of it from primary school but great to fill in the gaps in my memory.
Hurrah! I, too learned this poem when I was 8 and now in my sixties remember all but a tiny bit at the end! ! ! ! My Dad used to recite bits of this and other poems, which I loved to and he found the full copies which I then committed to memory. I would stand up infront of an audience and recite all or any of them whenever I could, .... sad eh? ! Kathy (Cookie)
My dad paid me £5 to learn this poem as a child as he wanted me to develop the art of reciting! I have loved this poem ever since but a friend found it for me on your website after telling her about flicking through every poetry book on book stands!! Thank you- after 25 yrs could remember a surprising amount but not that Percy had aided and abetted!!
Here's the version from the British Rhyme and Rhythm series. I had a Hippopotamus, I kept him in a shed I fed him upon vitamins and vegetable bread I made him my companion on many cheery walks And had his portrait done by a celebrity in chalks His charming eccentricities were known on every side The creature’s popularity was wonderfully wide He frolicked with the Rector in a dozen friendly tussles Who could not but remark upon his hippopotamuscles If he should be afflicted by depression or the dumps By hippopotameasles or the hippopotamumps I never knew a particle of peace 'till it was plain He was hippopotamasticating properly again I had a Hippopotamus, I loved him as a friend But beautiful relationships are bound to have an end Time takes alas! our joys from us and robs us of our blisses My hippopotamus turned out a hippopotamisses My house keeper regarded him with jaundice in her eye She did not want a colony of hippopotami She borrowed a machine gun from from her soldier nephew, Percy And showed my hippopotamus no hippopotamercy My house now lacks the glamour that the charming creature gave The garage where I kept him is as silent as the grave No longer he displays among the motor tyres and spanners His hippopomastery of hippopotamanners No longer now he gambols in the orchards in the spring No longer do I lead him through the village on a string No longer in the mornings does the neighbourhood rejoice To his hippopotamusically-modulated voice I had a hippopotamus but nothing upon earth Is constant in its happiness or lasting in its mirth No joy that life can give me can be strong enough to smother My sorrow for that might-have-been-a-hippopota-mother
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