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.
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
He’ll give you just one more caress.
The third stanza begins with an assumption that the reader has managed to escape the dangerous lion and tiger. But the danger prevails as one progresses deeper into the jungle. If at all one strolls forth into the wilderness, they are sure to witness another creature who will make sure to kill. They might meet a beast whose skin is peppered with spots. The poet uses the word peppered as the black spots appear as though they are sprinkled all over the surface. This is a beast that does not stop and think practically, as its first instinct is to jump on the human. It is not a normal jump, as it leaps from any distance onto the body. Here again, the person gets to know that he is being attacked by a leopard, only on the verge of death. But it will obviously be too late if they start shouting for help or roar with pain, as the leopard will not show any mercy but rather would keep leaping more onto the person's body.
The poet moves from the vicinity of the jungle to a common yard in front of a person's home. This might also be a reference to the fact that human beings intrude into the space of the animals, demolish their houses and build dwelling places. If that is the case, one cannot blame the wild animals for intruding into human spaces. If at all by any chance, when the person strolls around the yard and meets a burly creature who tries to hug him, then he is to make sure that it is a bear. But the hug here is not an amicable one but rather a life-threatening one. The bear holds on to a person so hard that they end up suffocating. The bear weighs to a great extent, and it is difficult for a human body to retain the huge weight of the bear. Even after all these events unfolding, if one has any doubts regarding the identity of the animal, the bear would just give a slight caress, making sure life flies out of the body. One small caress from the bear is more than enough to end one's life.
Bear hugging a man
Words with difficult meanings:
|Peppered||To put a small amount on a large surface|
|Lept||To jump forcefully|
|Yard||Area outside the house|
|Caress||To touch in a gentle way|
|Amiable||In a friendly way|
|Burly||Large and strong|
|Vicinity||The area near a place|
National Council of Educational Research and Training (2006). Beehive. How to Tell Wild Animals- Carolyn Wells (pp. 43-45). Published at the Publication Division by the Secretary, National Council of Educational Research and Training, Sri Aurobindo Marg, New Delhi.