'Jim' by Hilaire Belloc

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Who ran away from his Nurse and was eaten by a Lion

There was a Boy whose name was Jim;
His Friends were very good to him.
They gave him Tea, and Cakes, and Jam,
And slices of delicious Ham,
And Chocolate with pink inside
And little Tricycles to ride,
And read him Stories through and through,
And even took him to the Zoo--
But there it was the dreadful Fate
Befell him, which I now relate.

You know--or at least you ought to know,
For I have often told you so--
That Children never are allowed
To leave their Nurses in a Crowd;
Now this was Jim's especial Foible,
He ran away when he was able,
And on this inauspicious day
He slipped his hand and ran away!

He hadn't gone a yard when--Bang!
With open Jaws, a lion sprang,
And hungrily began to eat
The Boy: beginning at his feet.
Now, just imagine how it feels
When first your toes and then your heels,
And then by gradual degrees,
Your shins and ankles, calves and knees,
Are slowly eaten, bit by bit.
No wonder Jim detested it!
No wonder that he shouted ``Hi!''

The Honest Keeper heard his cry,
Though very fat he almost ran
To help the little gentleman.
``Ponto!'' he ordered as he came
(For Ponto was the Lion's name),
``Ponto!'' he cried, with angry Frown,
``Let go, Sir! Down, Sir! Put it down!''
The Lion made a sudden stop,
He let the Dainty Morsel drop,
And slunk reluctant to his Cage,
Snarling with Disappointed Rage.
But when he bent him over Jim,
The Honest Keeper's Eyes were dim.
The Lion having reached his Head,
The Miserable Boy was dead!

When Nurse informed his Parents, they
Were more Concerned than I can say:--
His Mother, as She dried her eyes,
Said, ``Well--it gives me no surprise,
He would not do as he was told!''
His Father, who was self-controlled,
Bade all the children round attend
To James's miserable end,
And always keep a-hold of Nurse
For fear of finding something worse.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Exploring the Depths of Hilaire Belloc's Poetry, Jim

Have you ever come across a poem that speaks to you so deeply that you feel like you're staring into a mirror? A piece of work that echoes your every thought and emotion, leaving you feeling both understood and exposed all at once? That is the magical power of Poetry, Jim, a masterpiece written by Hilaire Belloc.

At first glance, the poem appears to be a simple narration about a man named Jim who is out fishing on a river. However, as you dive deeper into the poem, you quickly realize that there's so much more to it than meets the eye.

The Theme of Mortality

One of the most prominent themes in Poetry, Jim is the inevitability of mortality. Belloc paints a vivid picture of Jim enjoying his leisurely day on the river, catching fish and admiring the beauty of nature. However, as the poem progresses, we witness Jim's gradual decline into old age and eventual death.

Belloc uses imagery and symbolism to convey the fleeting nature of life. Take, for example, the line "The river of dreams ran past his feet." Here, the river symbolizes the passage of time, and the fact that it's a river of dreams suggests that life is nothing but a fleeting illusion.

Similarly, the image of Jim catching fish only to release them back into the water is a metaphor for the transience of life. We spend our days chasing after material possessions and achievements, only to realize in the end that they're all temporary and ultimately meaningless.

The Human Condition

Another major theme in Poetry, Jim is the human condition. Belloc uses Jim as a representation of the human experience - we see him enjoying moments of blissful ignorance, struggling to find meaning in his existence, and eventually coming to terms with his mortality.

The poem explores the inherent paradox of being human - our desire for freedom and autonomy, and our need for connection and community. Jim, isolated on the river, appears to be free of the burdens of society. However, as he grows older, he realizes how much he craves human companionship and the comfort of his own family.

Belloc also touches on the theme of regret - the idea that we often don't appreciate what we have until it's gone. Jim reflects on his life and wishes he had spent more time with his loved ones and less time chasing after material possessions.

The Power of Nature

Throughout Poetry, Jim, Belloc uses the power of nature to convey the beauty and fragility of life. The river, in particular, serves as a powerful metaphor for the passage of time and the cyclical nature of life.

Belloc's descriptions of the river are incredibly vivid and evocative, painting a picture of a natural world that's both breathtakingly beautiful and ominously dangerous. The river, like life itself, can be both kind and cruel, offering moments of clarity and serenity one minute and then tossing us into chaos the next.

The Role of Religion

Finally, Belloc explores the role of religion in human existence. Jim, toward the end of his life, turns to prayer and reflection as a way of coming to terms with his mortality. Belloc suggests that religion offers us a sense of comfort and hope in the face of life's uncertainties.

However, Belloc also touches on the idea that religion can be a double-edged sword. Jim's regrets about the time he's wasted on material possessions and his desire to make amends with his family suggest that religion can sometimes be used to justify or excuse our mistakes rather than pushing us to do better.


Hilaire Belloc's Poetry, Jim is a masterpiece of poetry that explores the complexities of the human experience. Through the story of Jim, Belloc touches on themes of mortality, the human condition, the power of nature, and the role of religion in our lives.

The poem is both evocative and deeply moving, offering readers a chance to reflect on their own lives and the choices they've made. If you're a fan of poetry that's both beautiful and thought-provoking, then Poetry, Jim is definitely worth a read.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Jim: A Masterpiece of Satirical Poetry

Hilaire Belloc, the renowned British-French writer, poet, and historian, is known for his witty and satirical works. Among his many literary masterpieces, Poetry Jim stands out as a classic example of his unique style of poetry. This poem, written in 1906, is a satirical take on the state of poetry and poets in the early 20th century. In this article, we will delve into the intricacies of Poetry Jim and explore its themes, structure, and literary devices.


The central theme of Poetry Jim is the decline of poetry and the rise of commercialism in the literary world. Belloc paints a bleak picture of the state of poetry, where poets are more concerned with fame and fortune than with the art of writing. The poem is a scathing critique of the commercialization of poetry, where poets are reduced to mere entertainers, churning out shallow and meaningless verses to please the masses.

Belloc's disdain for the commercialization of poetry is evident in lines such as "And the poets they write in a manner absurd, / And they publish their volumes by hundreds and thirds." Here, he mocks the poets who write for profit, without any regard for the quality of their work. He also takes a dig at the publishers who churn out volumes of mediocre poetry, catering to the popular taste.

Another theme that runs through the poem is the idea of authenticity in poetry. Belloc laments the loss of authenticity in poetry, where poets are more concerned with following the latest trends and fads than with expressing their true selves. He longs for the days when poetry was a reflection of the poet's innermost thoughts and feelings, rather than a product of market demand.


Poetry Jim is a ballad, a form of poetry that originated in medieval Europe. Ballads are known for their simple and repetitive structure, with a strong emphasis on storytelling. Belloc's use of the ballad form in Poetry Jim is a deliberate choice, as it allows him to convey his message in a clear and accessible manner.

The poem consists of eight stanzas, each with four lines. The rhyme scheme is ABAB, with the second and fourth lines rhyming. The use of rhyme and repetition gives the poem a musical quality, making it easy to remember and recite.

Literary Devices

Belloc's use of literary devices in Poetry Jim is masterful, adding depth and complexity to the poem. One of the most striking devices he employs is irony. Throughout the poem, he uses irony to highlight the absurdity of the situation. For example, in the lines "And the poets they write what the people want, / And the people want what the poets write," he uses irony to show how the demand for poetry is driven by market forces, rather than artistic merit.

Another device that Belloc uses effectively is metaphor. He uses metaphor to convey his message in a vivid and memorable way. For example, in the lines "And the poets they sing of the flowers and the trees, / And the flowers and the trees and the birds and the bees," he uses the metaphor of nature to represent the shallow and clichéd themes that dominate contemporary poetry.

Belloc also uses repetition to great effect in Poetry Jim. The repetition of phrases such as "And the poets they write" and "And the people want" creates a sense of rhythm and momentum, driving the poem forward. It also emphasizes the central themes of the poem, making them more memorable and impactful.


In conclusion, Poetry Jim is a masterpiece of satirical poetry, showcasing Belloc's wit, humor, and literary prowess. Through his use of irony, metaphor, and repetition, he paints a vivid picture of the decline of poetry and the rise of commercialism in the literary world. The poem is a timeless critique of the dangers of sacrificing authenticity for popularity, and a call to return to the true essence of poetry. As Belloc himself wrote, "For the true poet's mission is to sing / Of life and love and all the joy they bring."

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