#PoetryinJune: Belloc’s Beasts

orange and yellow book jacket and poem characters

A couple of likely lads…

I know that this will be two children’s poems in a row, but I suppose that the excitement of having some sustained sunshine has addled my brain a little. In fact I’m beginning to suspect that this #PoetryinJune challenge may end up featuring rather a lot of light-hearted or comic verse. As summer is finally on the horizon, there may be just cause to steer clear of sad or tragic poetry (though that doesn’t mean I will eschew sadness completely).

Having decided on comic verse, you can’t do much better than to choose one of Hilaire Belloc’s wonderful Cautionary Verses. The problem then, was which Cautionary Verse to choose for my featured poem. After much deliberation I decided on the following. This was solely on the basis that suffering from a sore throat as I was, I rather liked the thought of it being as the result of purple and pink microbes.

The edition I have here is a selected edition (mine is a 1968 reprint) taken from the illustrated album edition published in 1940 by Gerald Duckworth & Co. I dare not even consider how much you would pay for a first edition (381 illustrations and cloth gilt cover) these days. The illustrations of Belloc’s verses are by Nicholas Bentley and B.TB. (Basil Temple Blackwood).

text and illustration of poem The Microbe

A jolly purple microbe…

The above poem comes from More Beasts for Worse Children which was first published in 1910 as a separate book and later included, along with Cautionary Tales for Children (1907) in the album I mentioned. The drawings for ‘The Microbe’ are from B.T.B.

Now, I will see if I can become a little more serious for tomorrow….  

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