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Analysis of How to Tell Wild Animals by Carolyn Wells

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Rhyme Scheme: ababcc ababcc ababcc ababcc ababcc



Stanza 1

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 youre dyin

You'll know it is the Asian Lion



Here the poet tells us that, if we ever get a chance to go to the jungles of East and come across an animal with yellowish-brown skin and whose roar is loud enough to scare us to death, we must recognise the animal as an Asian lion.


Poetic Devices

i. Enjambment - It is the continuation of a sentence to the next line without a break -

(And if there should to you advance

A large and tawny beast).

ii. Inversion - The format of the sentence has been changed - And if there should to you advance.

iii. Assonance - Prominent sound of the vowel o -

you should go

should to you

roars at you as you

iv. Allusion - Reference to a famous person, animal species or thing - Asian Lion.

v. Personification - The poet has used he instead of it for the animal.


Stanza 2


Or if some time 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.



Here, the poet talks about an animal that is of a royal chain. He says that if sometime while roaming about we come across an animal with yellowish skin and black stripes and just in case he kills and eats us up, we must recognise the wild animal as a Bengal tiger. Dark humour is used in the stanza because after one is already eaten up by an animal it is of no use to recognise its type.


Poetic Devices

i. Alliteration - It is the repetition of a letter at the start of closely placed words - repetition of letter r in  roaming round.

ii. Inversion - The format of the sentence has been changed - The Bengal Tiger to discern.

iii. Allusion - Reference to a famous person, animal species or thing - Bengal Tiger.

iv. Assonance - Prominent sound of the vowel o - Or if some time when roaming round.

v. Personification - The poet has used he instead of it for the animal.


Stanza 3


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.


In this stanza the poet talks about leopards. He says while casually walking in a jungle, if we come across an animal who has a skin with spots on it and it goes so fast that it can jump upon us at once, we must recognise the animal as a leopard. The poet says that crying out in pain will be of no use because the leopard will only keep on jumping on us.

Poetic Devices

i. Alliteration -  It is the repetition of a letter at the start of closely placed words - repetition of letter h in he has.

ii. Poetic License - The spelling of a word has been changed to create a rhythm in the poem - lept instead of leapt is written.

iii. Repetition - The word lep has been repeated in the last line.

iv. Assonance - Prominent sound of the vowel o -

strolling forth, a beast you view

Whose hide with spots

do no good to roar

v. Consonance - Prominent sound of the consonance l - Hell only lep and lep again.

vi. Personification - The poet has used he instead of it for the animal.


Stanza 4


If when you're walking round your yard

You meet a creature there,

Who hugs you very, very hard,             

Be sure it is a Bear.

If you have any doubts, I guess

Hell give you just one more caress.


Here, the poet says that if while walking in the yard, we come across an animal that hugs us tightly, then it is a bear. If we want to make sure of its identity, the easiest way is that the animal will just keep hugging you and touch you very gently. This act will confirm its identity as a bear.

Poetic Devices

i. Enjambment -  It is the continuation of a sentence to the next line without a break -

(If when you're walking round your yard

You meet a creature there)

ii. Alliteration -  It is the repetition of a letter at the start of closely placed words - repetition of letter:

w in when walking

b in be, bear

h in hugs you very, very hard

iii. Assonance - Prominent sound of the vowel e - You meet a creature there.

iv. Personification - The poet has used he instead of it for the animal.


Stanza 5

Though to distinguish beasts of prey               

A novice might nonplus,

The Crocodile you always may

Tell from the Hyena thus:

Hyenas come with merry smiles;

But if they weep they're Crocodiles


In this stanza, the poet says that if one is new to the job of identifying wild animals, it will be like a puzzle to identify animals who hunt other animals for their food. The poet helps the readers by differentiating between the two animals. He says hyenas will be smiling while crocodiles will be teary-eyed. Both of these animals are dangerous.

Poetic Devices

i. Alliteration - It is the repetition of a letter at the start of closely placed words - repetition of letter:

n in novice, nonplus

t in Tell from the Hyena thus.

ii. Enjambment - It is the continuation of a sentence to the next line without a break -

(Though to distinguish beasts of prey               

A novice might nonplus)

(The Crocodile you always may

Tell from the Hyena thus)

Stanza 6

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.

Here, the poet talks about a little creature - chameleon. A chameleon looks like a lizard but without any ears and wings. The poet also tells the readers that the chameleon has the ability to change its colour based on the surface it sits on. So, if you see a tree and find nothing sitting on it, it must be a chameleon who has changed its colour into the colour of the tree.

Poetic Devices

i. Alliteration - It is the repetition of a letter at the start of closely placed words - repetition of letter 'h' in the line "he hasn't".

ii. Consonance - Prominent sound of the consonant g - single wing.

iii. Personification - The poet has used "he" instead of "it" for the animal.
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