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Longer Narrative Poems
for Children

By Josie Whitehead

How the Camel Got His Hump .jpg


(Adapted from a Rudyard Kipling's Just So Story)

By Josie Whitehead

How the Camel Got His Hump

A lazy camel, in the sun,
     Relaxed beside a pool.
‘Whilst others work, my life is good.
      Work hard?  I’m not a fool!’

‘Those humans make we creatures work
      Before we get our rest:

‘Oh humph,’ said he, and laughed and laughed:
     ‘I know whose life is best!’

An ox came slowly through the sand:
      ‘We’d like some help,’ said he.
‘What?  Work like you?’ the camel said,
       ‘My life is happy – free!’

A dog arrived another day:
     ‘Come on!  Give us a hand!’
But the lazy camel just said ‘humph,’
     And rolled back on the sand.

A poor old horse arrived and said:
     ‘Our work’s too much for us!
Get up from that warm sandy bed,
     And don’t let’s have more fuss!’

So, did the camel go with him
     To do some honest toil?
He said: ‘Work hard?  Not likely for
     My silky coat would spoil!’

I think he added ‘humph’ again
     To what he had to say,
Then settled down in that soft sand
     To spend his lazy day.

The desert Djin, a spirit, came:
     ‘What’s this I’ve heard of you?
The other animals must work,
      And you must do so too!’

That lazy camel just said: ‘humph,’
     (A most insulting word) –
And the other animals felt sad
     At all they’d seen and heard.

To say a word like ‘humph’ indeed –
     And to the desert Djin,
Is something they would never do:
      It really is a sin.

The angry Djin said: ‘Humph, indeed!
     It’s manners that you lack!
I’ll teach you some respect, you beast!'
     And he touched the camel’s back.

A hump appeared upon its back,
     Which now all camels wear.
It reminds them that, like everyone,
     The work on earth we share!  



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