'Djolan' by Ellis Parker Butler

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Soft was the night, the eve how airy,
When through the big, fat dictionary
I wandered on in careless ease,
And read the a's, b's, c's and d's!

But stop! What is this form I see,
Beginning with a hump-backed d?
I pause! I gasp! I falter there!
It is the djolan, I declare!

It is the djolan, wond'rous word!
The Buceros plicatus bird!
Ne'er, ne'er before had I the bliss
To meet a djolly word like this!

'Twas djust before my dinner hour --
Well, let the djuicy djoint go sour!
Djoyful I read. I djust must see
What this strange djolan word may be!

Ah! ha! It is a noun! A noun!
(A ''name word" as we say in town)
"E. Ind. The native name of the
Year bird." These are the words I see.

"A hornbill with a white tail and --"
The big book trembles in my hand --
"-- plicated membrane at the base --"
Ah, well-a-day! If that's the case!

"-- base of the beak, inhabiting --"
Oh! dictionary, wond'rous thing!
"-- the Sunda Islands ----" Where would we
Without our dictionary be?

"-- Malacca, e-t-c." That's all!
I let the dictionary fall.
I am replete. All is explained.
Knowledge (it's power) is what I've gained!

Soft was the night, the eve how airy,
I read no more the dictionary,
But Oh! and Oh! my heart was stirred
To learn the djolan was a bird!

Submitted by John Martin

Editor 1 Interpretation

Djolan: A Masterpiece of Satirical Poetry

Do you enjoy satire? Do you appreciate sharp wit and humor that exposes the absurdity of society and human behavior? If so, you will love "Djolan," a classic poem by Ellis Parker Butler that showcases the author's talent for biting commentary and playful verse.

But what is "Djolan" about, you may ask? Well, let me tell you. The poem tells the story of a young man named Djolan who is fond of dancing and parties. He is always the life of the party and the center of attention, but he is also lazy and irresponsible, shirking his duties and neglecting his family.

On the surface, "Djolan" may seem like a lighthearted romp through the world of dance and frivolity, but a closer look reveals a much deeper meaning. Butler uses Djolan as a symbol for the hedonistic and selfish tendencies of modern society, where people value pleasure over duty and instant gratification over hard work.

Throughout the poem, Butler skewers Djolan and his ilk with cutting sarcasm and clever wordplay. He portrays them as fools who squander their time and resources on superficial pleasures, while neglecting their responsibilities to their families and communities. He also highlights the irony of their behavior, as they revel in their own self-indulgence while ignoring the suffering of others.

For instance, in one stanza, Butler writes:

Djolan danced, and his feet were light, And his heart was merry and gay, And he thought of nothing but pleasure and delight, Though his wife at home was old and gray.

Here, Butler juxtaposes Djolan's carefree dancing with the image of his neglected wife, who is old and gray, presumably from years of hard work and caring for her family. The contrast between the two characters is stark, highlighting the selfishness and thoughtlessness of Djolan's behavior.

Butler also uses vivid imagery to reinforce his satirical message. For example, in another stanza, he writes:

And the fiddlers fiddled with all their might, And the dancers kicked with their heels so light, And the moon looked down with a smile so bright, And the stars winked at the sight.

Here, he creates a whimsical scene of dancing and merriment, but the bright moon and winking stars serve as a reminder of the cosmic insignificance of Djolan's actions. In the grand scheme of things, his dancing and partying mean nothing, and yet he places them above everything else.

Overall, "Djolan" is a masterful example of satirical poetry that uses humor and wit to expose the follies and flaws of human nature. Butler's skillful use of language and imagery creates a vivid and memorable portrait of a society that values pleasure over duty, and his message is just as relevant today as it was when the poem was first published in 1910.

So, if you enjoy biting satire and clever wordplay, I highly recommend reading "Djolan." It's a classic poem that will make you think, laugh, and maybe even dance a little.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Djolan: A Classic Poem that Captures the Essence of Life

Ellis Parker Butler's Djolan is a classic poem that has stood the test of time. It is a masterpiece that captures the essence of life in a unique and captivating way. The poem is a reflection of the human experience, and it speaks to the heart of every reader who has ever felt the joy and pain of living.

The poem tells the story of Djolan, a young boy who is full of life and energy. He is described as a "little lad" who is "full of fun and frolic." Djolan is a symbol of youth and vitality, and his character embodies the spirit of life itself. He is a reminder that life is meant to be lived to the fullest, and that every moment is precious.

The poem begins with Djolan playing in the fields, enjoying the beauty of nature. He is surrounded by the "golden grain" and the "blue sky," and he revels in the simple pleasures of life. This scene is a reminder that life is full of beauty and wonder, and that we should take the time to appreciate it.

As the poem progresses, we see Djolan grow up and face the challenges of life. He falls in love, gets married, and starts a family. He experiences the joys of parenthood, but he also faces the pain of loss and heartbreak. Through it all, Djolan remains resilient and strong, a testament to the human spirit.

One of the most powerful themes of the poem is the idea of impermanence. Djolan's life is a reminder that everything in life is temporary, and that we should cherish every moment. The poem captures the fleeting nature of life, and it encourages us to make the most of the time we have.

Another important theme of the poem is the idea of love. Djolan's love for his family is a driving force in his life, and it gives him the strength to face the challenges that come his way. The poem shows us that love is a powerful force that can overcome even the greatest obstacles.

The language of the poem is simple and straightforward, yet it is also deeply poetic. The imagery is vivid and evocative, and it transports the reader to the world of Djolan. The poem is a testament to the power of language, and it shows us that words can be used to create a world of beauty and wonder.

In conclusion, Djolan is a classic poem that captures the essence of life in a unique and captivating way. It is a reminder that life is full of beauty and wonder, and that we should cherish every moment. The poem is a testament to the human spirit, and it shows us that love and resilience can overcome even the greatest challenges. Djolan is a masterpiece that will continue to inspire and captivate readers for generations to come.

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