Faithful readers will recall that I previously reported that Boynton expert Michael Drout, English Chair at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, proved that Hippos Go Berserk was a fraudulent work.
Prof. Drout has been at work again with his expert eye and criticism. This time, he has proved that the “redrawn” edition of But Not the Hippopotamus is fraudulent.
I recently purchased a copy of But Not the Hippopotamus at the Blue Bunny bookstore in Dedham, Mass. In this copy I found the following opening lines:
A Hog and Frog
cavort in a bog.
But not the Hippopotamus.
Something did not seem right, so I consulted my personal copy of But Not the Hippopotamus. Sure enough, the opening lines are:
A Hog and a Frog
do a dance in a bog.
But not the Hippopotamus.
This variation, “cavort” for “do a dance” is an editorial hyper-correction, probably based on an attempt to force Boynton the Great's artistically flawless meter into a straightjacket of perfect regularity.
Note that in the original version, “do a dance” is a straightforward anapest. I scan the lines as:
a HOG and a FROG (iamb plus anapest)
do a DANCE in a BOG (two anapests)
Pseudo-Boynton forces both lines to be iambs followed by anapests, but examination of the rest of the poem shows that Boynton only once uses the 2 / 3 pattern in the line:
a HARE and a BEAR (iamb anapest)
have BEEN to a FAIR (iamb anapest)
In the other two stanzas we see:
are TRYing on HATS
toGETHer have JUICE
These two parallels, “are TRYing” and “toGETHer” are amphibrachs, also three-syllable feet. So there is no need to assume that the iamb in the fourth stanza needs to be followed slavishly by forcing a two-syllable foot (“cavort”) into the first stanza.
From this analysis of the forgery, we can conclude that Pseudo-Boynton is a highly trained scholar, but one for whom Boynton’s brilliant verse is not a native idiom. We can also note that as well as lacking Boynton the Great’s attention to detail (in that Pseudo-Boynton forgets to deal with the six distressed hippos who have never left in his/her version of Hippos Go Berserk), Pseudo-Boynton has a predilection for hippos. Scholars should thus re-examine the Boynton corpus to determine which other texts may have been interfered with by Pseudo-Boynton, looking for editorial hypercorrection, subtle contradictions, and hippos.
And the “Cavort” Recension of But Not the Hippopotamus must be athetized from the corpus.
Be sure to bring this vital issue to the attention of your school and public children’s libraries and librarians.