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The Hippopotamus

The Hippopotamus

My sister bought us a set of wooden hippos for Christmas. I love the idea that ‘hippopotamus’ is from the Greek for ‘river-horse’ so I thought I’d write a poem about it!
(Just a note about the Greek: ίππος = hippos = horse, ποταμος = potamos = river)
The hippopotamus, the ‘river-horse’.
Not like our English horses: docile, tame,
With their sugarlumps and carrots, while their force
Is harnessed for our service or our games.
But to the Greeks a ίππος was no pet.
To all who in its way would dare to stand
It was wild and dangerous, a threat.
The ίππος. War horse. Conqueror of lands.
Then there’s the ποταμος, the river. Wide
With vast, unbridled power when in flood,
Its shadow harsh and desolate when dried.
In wax or wane with power of life and blood.
Untameable. Unyielding. Dangerous.
The ‘river-horse’, the hippopotamus.


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