A Tale of Palmyra Isle

Dublin Core

Title

A Tale of Palmyra Isle

Description

This fun, witty limerick tells what we can only assume is a fictitious story of a tree climbing crab on Palmyra, who would call out to a turtle to crack coconuts on its shell, and together they would eat them. This is described in the climax of the tale, in the words below:

"He (the crab) made a curious bleating, the which he kept repeating,
Until a monstrous turtle to the palm-tree’s base did strut.

“The nut descending fleetly, on the turtle’s back struck neatly,
And the violence of the impact split its solid shell in twain,
Then the bosom pair fed gaily and the feat repeated daily,
As long as I elected on Palmyra to remain.”

All we know of the author, is that his full name was Harry Morgan Ayres, and besides being an author and editor, he was a Professor of English at Columbia University.

Creator

H.M. Ayres

Source

Newspapers.com

Publisher

Honolulu Advertiser

Date

1913-10-07

Rights

Public Domain

Language

English

Text Item Type Metadata

Text

By HM Ayres

As the sun was slowly setting, the cared of day forgetting,
We were chatting o’er a friendly pipe where the Kinau used to dock—
Myself and old Bill Jerkins of the schooner Levi Perkins,
And the conversation turned on crabs which haunt Palmyra’s rock.

Says Bill, “When I was cruisin’, for the purpose of amusin’
Myself, one day I landed on this same Palmyra Isle";
You should have heard him tell it—a rat you’d never smell it,
Nor on his artless features trace an evidence of guile.

“This isle,” said Bill, “was haunted by a breed of crabs undaunted,
Which didn’t seem to mind a man anything like that;
But what claimed my attention was a thing which i must mention:
The way they climbed the coco-palms and in the branches sat.

“Once as I gazed and wondered, a nut was deftly sundered
By herculean claws, and dropped a-boundin’ at my feet,
Then down his crabship scampered, and like a youngster pampered,
The choicest portion of the nut proceeded to eat.”

“Now, stop right there!” I shouted. “Your word I’ve never doubted,
But now I must confess the cord of credulence is cut,
Unless you tell me straightly, how, by all we honor greatly,
That crab contrived to dally with the innards of that nut?”

“A very childish question and easy of digestion,”
Says Bill, as to his starboard jaw he introduced his quid;
“There’s turtles on the island, both the low land and the high land,
And near as hard as iron is the texture of their lid.

“In unison together in foul or sunny weather
The turtles and the crabs reside and mutual succour lend;
When a crab requires assistance does a turtle show resistance?
Not on your life! he straightaway goes and play the part of friend.

“I omitted for to mention, though such was my intention,
That e’er the crab I spoke about detached the cocoanut,
He made a curious bleating, the which he kept repeating,
Until a monstrous turtle to the palm-tree’s base did strut.

“The nut descending fleetly, on the turtle’s back struck neatly,
And the violence of the impact split its solid shell in twain,
Then the bosom pair fed gaily and the feat repeated daily,
As long as I elected on Palmyra to remain.”

I gazed at old Bill Jerkins of the schooner Levi Perkins,
And then I doffed my hat to him and offered him a drink;
Says he, “I have no notion of the cause of this devotion,
Still truth is might to prevail.”—I murmured, “I don’t think!"

Citation

H.M. Ayres, “A Tale of Palmyra Isle,” Palmyra Archive, accessed September 22, 2019, http://palmyraarchive.org/items/show/233.