The jungle husband By Stevie Smith


Dearest Evelyn, I often think of you
Out with the guns in the jungle stew
Yesterday I hittapotamus
I put the measurements down for you but they got lost in the fuss
It’s not a good thing to drink out here
You know, I’ve practically given it up dear.
Tomorrow I am going alone a long way
Into the jungle. It is all grey
But green on top
Only sometimes when a tree has fallen
The sun comes down plop, it is quite appalling.
You never want to go in a jungle pool
In the hot sun, it would be the act of a fool
Because it’s always full of anacondas, Evelyn, not looking ill-fed
I’ll say. So no more now, from your loving husband Wilfred.

I love the line “Only sometimes when a tree has fallen/The sun comes down plop, it is quite appalling” .

Of course the whole poem has to be looked at as something written in a lighter vein. A husband who is into the jungle exploring the forest with his gun in tow. He hit a potamus , in a truly Ogden Nash way but could not put the measurements down for her. Why for her, one would ask. So that she is impressed by the largeness of the hippo and his shooting abilities, his fearlessness .She, in turn, could impress the society ladies in her kittie parties. A jungle husband is so romantic!

It is not a good thing to drink out here/But I have practically given it up dear. Practically , of course.

It is all grey but green on top. A confusing landscape where anything can happen but luckily at the top it is green!

“only sometimes when a tree has fallen/The sun comes down plop, it is quite appalling”


A beautiful line written in humour but appealing in its richness of image. Imagine the tree falling in the grey landscape of the jungle and a big hole in space suddenly appears with the sun seeming to drop down from the sky. Plop ! It is quite appalling !

Of course you would never want to venture into the jungle pool. The anacondas there are not looking ill-fed!

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