August 29, 2008

Poetry Friday: Never Doubt? Or Question Everything?

The Microbe
by Hilaire Belloc [1870-1953]

The Microbe is so very small
You cannot make him out at all,
But many sanguine people hope
To see him through a microscope.
His jointed tongue that lies beneath
A hundred curious rows of teeth;
His seven tufted tails with lots
Of lovely pink and purple spots,
On each of which a pattern stands,
Composed of forty separate bands;
His eyebrows of a tender green;
All these have never yet been seen--
But Scientists, who ought to know,
Assure us that they must be so...
Oh! let us never, never doubt
What nobody is sure about!

The last two lines of this poem are quoted by Gene Wilder in the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971). Even though I'm pretty sure the whole cast and crew were on drugs when it was filmed, I love that weird old movie; the book is even more strange.

I love that the Wilder's lines, as written by screenwriter David Seltzer, are just packed with poetry, which was fun for both the adults and the kids. I can't think of another non-poetic movie that uses so much poetry, can you?

Poetry Friday today is hosted at Charlotte's Library, hope you drop in and join in the fun.


Sarah Stevenson said...

Love that movie, and love Gene Wilder!

This is a wonderful, whimsical poem. It makes me want to sit down with a box of crayons and draw that microbe...

Anonymous said...

His eyebrows of a tender green???? LOVE this...

Elaine Magliaro said...


I like your Poetry Friday selection. I really enjoy well-written humorous verse. This is a clever piece by Belloc.

Sara said...

My daughter has a fuzzy (like as in stuffed animal) microbe. I can't remember which one. She was really into plagues and diseases for awhile. I ran across the cuddly green thing just last week when I was cleaning out her room.

Mary Lee said...

Why does this poem suddenly remind me of the U.S. election process? YIKES!

Andromeda Jazmon said...

LOVE Willie Wonka; Dahl, Wilder and Depp. I thought I wouldn't like the remake but Depp adds so much to it I couldn't help myself. I adore how he says, "little girl" with one eyebrow raised.

divatobe said...

I hear shades of Ogden Nash in this poem.