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How to Tell the Wild Animals by Carolyn Wells

If ever you should go by chance
To jungles in the East;
And if there should to you advance
A large and tawny beast,
If he roars at you as you’re dyin’
You’ll know it is the Asian Lion.

Or if sometime when roaming round,
A noble wild beast greets you,
With black stripes on a yellow ground,
Just notice if he eats you.
This simple rule may help you learn
The Bengal Tiger to discern.

If strolling forth, a beast you view,
Whose hide with spots is peppered,
As soon as he has lept on you,
You’ll know it is the Leopard.
‘Twill do no good to roar with pain,
He’ll only lep and lep again.

If when you’re walking round your yard,
You meet a creature there,
Who hugs you very, very hard,
Be sure it is the Bear.
If you have any doubt, I guess
He’ll give you just one more caress.

Though to distinguish beasts of prey
A novice might nonplus,
The Crocodiles you always may
Tell from Hyenas thus:
Hyenas come with merry smiles;
But if they weep, they’re Crocodiles.

The true Chameleon is small,
A lizard sort of thing;
He hasn’t any ears at all,
And not a single wing.
If there is nothing on the tree,
‘Tis the Chameleon you see.


The poet says if by chance you happen to go to any forest in the east, you are likely to encounter a huge and terrible animal moving towards you. You will notice that a large beast roars loudly at you and you feel that you are going to die due to fear, then you will come to know that it is the Asian Lion.

The poet says that it is very likely that while roaming in the forest, you are greeted by a wild beast. His majestic body is covered with black stripes on a yellow hide. The poet cautions if you notice this beast and if he eats you, then this simple rule will teach you that it is a ‘Bengal Tiger’.

The poet helps the readers to identify a Leopard. He says if you happen to walk in the forest, you might encounter a beast with spots on his skin. When this wild beast will jump at you, you will understand that it is a Leopard as he will keep jumping on you and will tear you apart. Moreover, it will be of no use then to shout or cry with pain because he will continue pouncing on you. So you should be careful.

The poet says that while you are walking in your yard, you may encounter a creature there. When this creature hugs you very very tightly, then believe that it is a Bear. The poet further says that in case of any doubt, you will find that the Bear will embrace you once again till death.

The poet helps to differentiate the Crocodile from the Hyena. He says that a Hyena always laughs as it swallows its victim. A laughing Hyena’s voice resembles human’s laughing sound. A crocodile on the other hand, is said to shed tears while eating its prey.

The poet describes a chameleon in the last stanza. He says a chameleon is a small garden lizard. It doesn’t have ears or wings. The poet, further, says if you are unable to see a thing on the tree, then chances are that a chameleon is sitting there.

Poetic Devices

Rhyme Scheme: ababcc


  • roaming round
  • lep and lep again
  • who hugs you very very hard
  • A novice might nonplus.

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