the African Lion
July 20, 2012 § Leave a comment
Is a thing that a lion enjoys;
But he rightly and strongly objects to the taste
Of good and uneatable boys.
When he bites off a piece of a boy of that sort
He spits it right out of his mouth,
And retires with a loud and dissatisfied snort
To the east, or the west, or the south.
So lads of good habits, on coming across
A lion, need feel no alarm
For they know they are sure to escape with the loss
Of a leg, or a head, or an arm.
– A. E. Housman
The moral of the poem is that the virtuous end up only slightly better off than their vile counterparts. Compare to Belloc’s “Jim“.