Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Once there was a cassowary

When we returned from the vet with our dogs yesterday, I told my wife about the vet saying that the animal they had killed sounded, from my description, like a cassowary, whereas I think he meant a capybara.

Cassowary

Cassowary

My wife then cited a half-remembered rhyme from her childhood, that went something like “Once there was a cassowary on the plane to Timbuktu”. I remembered something similar, so I thought I would look it up on the web and try to find the original, an d see who wrote it. It sounded like Edward Lear.

One version is:

Once there was a cassowary
on the plains of Timbuktu
killed and ate a missionary
cassock, bands and hymn book too.

My web search produced several other versions too, and the attributions included Tennyson, Thackeray, Bishop Samuel Wilberforce and several others, so I ended up being none the wiser.

Does anyone know its real origins, or was it the ubiquitous Anon?

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One thought on “Once there was a cassowary

  1. Keith Francis on said:

    My mother’s version, from some time in the 1930’s:

    Once I was a cassowary,
    On the plains of Timbuctoo;
    There I ate a missionary,
    Arms and legs and hymnbook too.

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