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How to Tell the Wild Animals written by Carolyn Wells is a humorous poem which describes various wild animals in a very funny way. The poem does not have a serious tone though what the poet says is very serious.
In the poem, the poet tells how to recognise a wild animal. In each stanza, a new animal is mentioned and we are told how to recognise it. The poem has been divided into six stanzas having six lines each.
We will discuss the poem stanza by stanza and line by line. We will also memorise the meanings of difficult words.
In the first stanza, the poet says that if we ever go to jungles (forests) in the East (i.e. Asian countries) by chance and while walking, we find a large and tawny (yellowish-brown in color) beast (animal) advancing (coming) towards us and which roars at us while we are dying (as it is eating us), then we will come to know that it is an Asian Lion.
Note that the way poet has suggested us to recognise animal is funny. According to her, we will be able to know that it is Asian lion only when it will roar while eating us 😁.
Next, the poet says that if we are roaming around in the forest and a noble wild beast (animal) with black stripes on a yellow ground (i.e. skin) greets us, we should carefully look if it eats us or not. If it does eat us, then it is The Bengali Tiger. Discern means to recognize.
Next, the poet says if we stroll (walk with leisure for joy) further and see a beast (animal) whose hide (skin) is filled with black spots (peppered here means spreads on the body) and it quickly leaps (lept is the second form of leap) on us i.e. attacks us, we will know that it is the leopard.
It will do no good i.e. it will be useless to roar (cry) with pain because our crying will make it leap around us again and again and finally kill us.
Next, the poet says that if we are walking around in our yard and suddenly meet a creature (animal) there which hugs us very tightly, we will know that it is a bear. And if we doubt that, it (the bear) will make us believe that it is a bear by giving us more caress (tight hug) and finally killing us.
In stanza 5, the poet says that a novice (learner or inexperienced person) may nonplus i.e. get confused while trying to distinguish among beasts of prey (i.e. the animals which hunt others for food).
He can easily think that a hyena is a crocodile. However the poet tells us how to distinguish between the two. According to her, the hyena always comes with merry (happy) smiles while a crocodile weeps.
In the final stanza, the poet says that a true (real) Chameleon is small in size and looks like a lizard. However, it does not have any ears or wings like the lizard.
As it can change its color, there can be a chameleon on a tree we are looking at though we may not be able to see it, because it would have changed its color.
Click here to read 10 important questions in this poem.