The Camel's Hump 

How the Camel got his Hump 


THE Camel's hump is an ugly lump 
Which well you may see at the Zoo;
But uglier yet is the hump we get 
From having too little to do.

Kiddies and grown-ups too-oo-oo,
If we haven't enough to do-oo-oo,
We get the hump—
Cameelious hump— 
The hump that is black and blue! 

We climb out of bed with a frouzly head,
And a snarly-yarly voice.
We shiver and scowl and we grunt and we growl 
At our bath and our boots and our toys; 

And there ought to be a corner for me 
(And I know' there is one for you)
When we get the hump— 
Cameelious hump— 
The hump that is black and blue! 

The cure for this ill is not to sit still, 
Or frowst with a book by the fire;
But to take a large hoe and a shovel also, 
And dig till you gently perspire;

And then you will find that the sun and the wind, 
And the Djinn of the Garden too,
Have lifted the hump— 
The horrible hump— 
The hump that is black and blue! 

I get it as well as you-oo-oo 
If I haven't enough to do-oo-oo!
We all get hump— 
Cameelious hump— 
Kiddies and grown-ups too! 
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The Story of How the Camel Got his Hump - A summary

This poem goes with the story, How the Camel Got his Hump,  one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. Rudyard Kipling, born in Bombay, lived 1865 – 18 January 1936. He was an English short-story writer, poet, and novelist. Kipling , who received the Nobel Prize for literature in 1907,  has a huge and fascinating writer’s history. Here is a summary of the story:

In the beginning of time, when the world is new, there is a Camel. The Camel is very lazy and he sits in the middle of the Howling Dessert, eating prickles and milkweeds. When anyone speaks to the Camel he responds with, “Humph”.

On Monday, the Horse comes and asks the Camel to help trot. The Camel replies, “Humph”. The Horse goes away and tells the Man. On Tuesday, the Dog comes and asks the Camel to help fetch and carry. The Camel responds, “Humph”. The Dog goes away and tells the Man. On Wednesday, the Ox comes and asks the Camel to help plough. The Camel states, “Humph”. The Ox goes away and tells the Man. At the end of the day, the Man calls the Three animals together. The Man says that since the Camel will not work, they will have to do extra work to make up for him. This makes the Three very angry, and they talk and complain about the Camel.

In rolls a Djinn, the man in charge of All Deserts, and he confers with the Three. They ask if it is alright for someone to be so lazy and not work. The Djinn, of course, says it is not.

The Djinn heads to the middle of the desert where the Camel is ogling his reflection. The Djinn asks the Camel why he is not doing any work and the Camel responds, “Humph”. The Djinn tells the Camel that since he has chosen not to work, he has given the Three extra work. The Camel says, “Humph”. The Djinn warns the Camel that if he says ‘humph’ again, something bad may happen. As soon as the Camel responds with “humph” again, and a huge hump grows on the back of the Camel!

The Djinn tells the Camel that is his very own hump, brought on by his selfishness and lack of activity. The Djinn says the Camel has to work, and the Camel asks how can he work with a giant hump on his back. The Djinn explains that the hump will hold enough fuel for him to be able to work for three days without eating.

The Camel goes to join the Three, and from that day always has a hump. The Camel has yet to catch up with the work he missed in the beginning of time, and he has not yet learned how to behave.

Camel’s Hump by Rudyard Kipling Analysis

Rudyard Kipling was an English author famous for an array of works like 'Just So Stories' and 'The Jungle Book.' He received the 1907 Nobel Prize in Literature. He was born in 1865 in Bombay, India, where his father was a Professor at the Bombay School of Art. He became a very popular writer of poetry and short stories and was also the authekor of some novels. One of his greatest poems is “If” which is a very inspirational poem written as a series of advises by a father to his son. He also wrote many sotries and poems for children.

The origin of the poem:

The Camel’s Hump”, derives from one of the Children’s stories he wrote called, “How the Camel Got his Hump” In this story Kipling speaks of the time long ago when animals just began to work for men. Many animals including horses, dogs and oxen went to work for men but the camel did not wish to do this and went to live in the middle of the desert to avoid it. On three successive days the horse, the dog and the ox came to the desert to ask the camel to come and work for men. But on each occasion the camel refused to go saying, “Hum.” At the end of the third day, man called the three animals – the horse, the dog and the ox and said, “That Hump thing in the desert refuses to work and therefore the three of you have to work double time.” The angry animals then met the Djinn ( a spirit) and complained to him about the camel’s refusal to work. The Djinn then ordered the camel to go and work for three days for man, but again he only said, “Hump”, and did not go to work. Then for the second time the Djinn ordered him to go to work and again he refused saying, “Hump” But this time the Djinn used his magical powers to punish the camel; he punished him by puffing up his back into a hump. Then the Djinn ordered him to go and work for man and from that day to this the camel has a hump and works for man.

The hump in the poem “The Camel’s Hump”, is a metaphor for a uncooperative, sullen, and lazy state of mind. There is a moral in it like in many of Kipling’s poems.

Comment on the Poem:

The poem is written using very simple language and a swinging rhythm which appeals to children. This appeal is enhanced by the use of internal rhymes in verses in 1,3, 5 and 6 as can be seen in the 1st line: “The Camel’s hump is an ugly lump” Hump” and “lump’ rhyme and the 2nd and 4th lines too rhyme. In verse 2 and verse 7 there is a refrain like quality. This comes from the lengthening of the vowel sounds, at the end of the 1st two lines – ‘too-oo-oo’/’you-oo-oo,’ and ‘do-oo-oo.’ This makes it easier to chant or to sing. The poem also has many lines which are repeated: ‘Camelilious himp-‘.’The hump that is black and blue!’ All this makes it attractive to children.

It is obviously a children’s poem, but everyone can bejefit from the moral contained in it – that sulky unwillingness to join in constructive work, results in the person who refuses to work becoming unpleasant and unattractive.

Questions and Answers:

1. Would you class this poem as one written for children?

Though it is primarily meant for children, it is a poem that adults can read with profit and enjoyment.

2.  Name the main metaphor used in the poem.

The Camel’s hump is a metaphor for selfishness and laziness.