Talking (And Singing) Of The Nordic Man

I

Behold, my child, the Nordic man,
And be as like him, as you can;
His legs are long, his mind is slow,
His hair is lank and made of tow.


II

And here we have the Alpine Race:
Oh! What a broad and foolish face!
His skin is of a dirty yellow.
He is a most unpleasant fellow.


III

The most degraded of them all
Mediterranean we call.
His hair is crisp, and even curls,
And he is saucy with the girls.

by Hilaire Belloc

Other poems of BELLOC (101)

Comments (15)

Let’s try an ensure that a great humorist doesn’t fall victim to the dim zealots who can’t see a satire when it stares them in the face.
This satire of the racial views of his day is very funny. Sorry some of the commenters below take it at face value. Roughly: Nordic=Teutons, some Slavs. Alpine= most Slavs, Turkic peoples, Magyars. Mediterranean=Latins, Greeks. All Caucasians, the Semites to the south are another branch of Caucasians. See wiki article on Nordic race for more info. Belloc was not even so sure these groupings were accurate, let alone possessing different qualities. Look at a version of this poem with the pictures included. The 'Nordic' part has a picture of a chinless upper class twit dressed as a fierce Viking, and looking rather hapless. Obviously a picture of a man who thinks he is a member of some master race, when he is really no such thing. The 'Alpine' part has a rather flat-faced Slav dressed in a Swiss mountaineers outfit, a rather incongruous picture, suggesting that some people have their ideas a little confused. This excellent satire of racism is called The Three Races. It can be found, with the pictures, in Belloc's 'Cautionary Tales'. To those who think he is advocating the ideas he makes fun of; Belloc was pulling your leg and it came off in his hand.
I agree; I don't see why people are taking offense. This poem is meant for those who are willing to stop and think for a moment about the true intent behind it - not for those who will simply take it on face value. BTW, great, and funny poem!
Behold, my child, pure ignorance, From one who lacks in common sense; Ignoring logic and plain facts, Quick to judge by words, not act. And here we offer written proof; To show semantic rant a spoof! (Though dry perhaps, and tongue-in-cheek) By all means - read before you speak. Belloc indulged in having a little fun at the expense of whomever's leg he could tug and was confident enough in his own beliefs to feel no fear of playing with his poetry. His actions speak his true mind, while verse such as this show his humor and talent for stirring the pot.
It would appear Belloc is a rather complicated fellow. Admittedly no expert on him, though, I did a little bit of research and found this excerpt in Wikipedia: There are a number of grounds on which Belloc has been deemed by some to be anti-Semitic and not concerned to conceal his views.[21] On the other hand, Canadian broadcaster Michael Coren wrote: Belloc's polemics did periodically drift into the realms of bigotry, but he was invariably a tenacious opponent of philosophical anti-Semitism, ostracized friends who made attacks upon individual Jews, and was an inexorable enemy of fascism and all its works, speaking out against German anti-Semitism before the National Socialists came to power. ~~~~~ After reading enough, I decided Belloc is something like a Don Rickles of poetry, generally against prejudice, but sometimes coming off sounding somewhat offensive in his ironic statements. Irony is a difficult quality to master by the practitioner, and often misunderstood by those who do not recognize it. In any case, lambasting and ridiculing those who misinterpret a poem, or who see things differently, seems to be a chronic flaw among some.
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