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Friday, September 2, 2011

Number 253: Hilaire Belloc "The Frog"

The Frog

Be kind and tender to the Frog,
And do not call him names,
As ‘Slimy skin,’ or ‘Polly-wog,’
Or likewise ‘Ugly James,’
Or ‘Gape-a-grin,’ or ‘Toad-gone-wrong,’
Or ‘Billy Bandy-knees’:
The Frog is justly sensitive
To epithets like these.
No animal will more repay
A treatment kind and fair;
At least so lonely people say
Who keep a frog (and, by the way,
They are extremely rare).

-- Hilaire Belloc

Hap Notes: Joseph Hilaire Pierre René Belloc (1879-1953) was a highly intelligent and controversial essayist and historian in addition to being a poet of "children's verse." Belloc's verses for children, however, do not claim a shred of intention of being exclusively for children with titles like "Henry King, Who chewed bits of string and was early cut off in dreadful agonies"and "Rebecca, who slammed doors for fun and perished miserably." Roald Dahl, unsurprisingly, was a fan of his verse. Belloc, however, is first and foremost considered one of the most influential essayists of the Edwardian era and is placed with H.G. Wells (with whom he had battles in essay form), George Bernard Shaw and G.K. Chesterton.

Hemingway was somewhat of an admirer of Belloc and mentions him in A Moveable Feast in the passages about Ford Maddox Ford. (I remembered this and re-read the book last night only to find out that it wasn't actually Belloc that Ford had "cut" with a look. It was still a great read.)

Belloc held controversial and conservative views, however his book, The Jews (1922), tainted as it is with a sort of anti-semitism, accurately predicted Hitler, long before he took power. Belloc wrote many histories and historical biographies. His political views are not easily summed up but I suppose it's fair to say he was contemptuous of the modern world.

His books of children's poetry certain presage the dark titles of Lemony Snicket's (Daniel Handler)"A Series of Unfortunate Events" with titles like "Cautionary Tales For Children: Designed for the Admonition of Children Between the Ages of Eight and Fourteen Years" and "The Bad Child's Book of Beasts" and "More Beasts For Worse Children."

Here's a good Belloc quote: "Is there no Latin word for Tea? Upon my soul, if I had known that I would have let the vulgar stuff alone. "

and another: "Every major question in history is a religious question. It has more effect in molding life than nationalism or a common language. "

and his famous couplet: "When I am dead, I hope it may be said:/ His sins were scarlet, but his books were read. "

Here's our Saturday cartoons and songs (SO many froggy things it was hard to choose!):

Here's Ub Iwerks' "Flip the Frog" with music by Carl Stallings- "The Soup Song"

Had to have one Kermit. Here he is tap dancing (sorta):

Crazy Frogs with 'The Ding Dong Song":

A Favorite of mine from Liam Lynch's podcast- "The Frog Song":

Arnold Lobel's Frog and Toad stories in stop motion animation- here is the "cookie" story: (side note my brother always said that he was Frog and I was Toad. This episode illustrates clearly why that is true.)

The Rupert cartoons on Disney featured Paul McCartney music. Here's his song for the frog concert in the series:

Les Claypool, the frontman for the band Primus, is a multi-faceted musician (and person) here's Les Claypool's Frog Brigade with "Up On The Roof": /

And, if you can stand one more, a short section from Sondheim's musical based on Aristophanes' The Frogs:

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