A Strange Experience


I met a man one summer day,
And this is what he said:
“I once was swallosed by a whale
Who thought that I was dead.

“Maxmillian was this great whale’s name,
Who swam the mighty seas.
And I was Gulped down whole by him
As pretty as you please.

And in this whale I found a slip
Of paper, aged with time.
I picked it up and opened it
And read it through the slime.

“‘Jonah,’ was the sole name there.
And as I onward read:
‘In sixteen-twenty-two B.C.
I entered by this head.’

“I read this by a brilliant light.
Imagine how it feels
To read inside a whale that’s lit
By live electric eels.

“I wrote a slip that read like this:
‘I entered by this snout
In nineteen-thirty-eight A.D.
I hope I’ll soon get out.’

“I caught a dogfish for a pet
And when it had a pup,
I taught it how to bark and growl
And wake Maxmillian up.

“Electric eels were not enough
To give the proper light.
I put a sunfish in a cage,
And it was twice as bright.

“One day the whale began to bleed;
His blood it flowed like wine.
Someone had harpooned the whale,
But I pulled out the line.

“And then I pulled the harpoon out
And almost drowned in blood.
I caught a sea-cow swimming by
While chewing on her cud.

“After ten years of this strange life,
I longed to go back home.
I’d been too long inside this whale
Since I embarked at Rome.

“One night the whale was fast asleep,
(I’d kept my dogfish still)
I climbed upon my sea-horse, James,
And started for his gill.

“But as I was about to leave,
The whale woke up and said,
‘You owe ten-thousand for your stay.
Pay it, or you’ll be dead.’

“I wrote a check for this amount
And handed it to him.
He put it inside his false tooth,
Which filled it to the brim.

“I rode out on a barren isle
Where man had never trod.
And there I found, to my surprise,
A large and solid rod.

“It stuck straight up into the air,
(At least it did its best)
I pulled my pocket compass out
And found it pointed West.

“From this I rapidly deduced
I’d found the famed East Pole.
I climbed back on my sea-horse, James,
And New York was my goal.

“They’d not accept my story there;
Nor in the whole U.S.,
But now that I’ve told it to you
You’ll write it out I guess.”

I tell this tale as it was told
To me that summer day.
I do not know if it is true.
That is for you to say.