Oh, there once was a puffin
Just the shape of a muffin
And he lived on an island
In the bright blue sea.
And he ate little fishes
That was so delicishes
And he ate them for breakfast
And he ate them for tea.
But the poor little puffin
He couldn’t play nuthin’
‘Cause he didn’t have no one
To play with at all.
So he sat on his island
And he cried for a while
And he felt very lonesome
And he felt very small.
(Dramatic pause, a few tears.)
Then along came some fishes
And they said, “If you wishes,
You could have us for playmates
Instead of for tea.”
So they all play together
In all sorts of weather,
And the puffin eats pancakes
Like you and like me.
I memorized this poem, by Florence Page Jaques, as a child, and I considered it an important part of my own children’s education. I will recite it still at the very slightest urging.
When the Aquarium expanded the Open Sea Wing to include a puffin exhibit (along with other alcids, diving birds, like murres and guillemots,) I recited the poem (more than once I’m afraid) for my guide shift.
I even called the Exhibits Department and suggested they include this classic poem in the signage. This was not the first time that the Exhibits Dept. has ignored one of my great suggestions, but I offer it today for my faithful Blue Theology Mission Station readers.
It doesn’t really need a moral. Like most poems it can stand alone. But in case you need interpretive help, may I suggest:
-Don’t eat your friends.
-Invite those who would devour you to play instead.
-When in doubt, make pancakes.
-Check out <puffinpalooza.com.>
-Google “There Once Wasn’t A Puffin Anymore” if you want a very sad climate change-inspired last verse, but it’s really a downer.
-Learn some more fun facts about puffins, such as:
-They can beat their wings up to 400 times a minute.
-Their scientific name “fratercula” means “little brother” because they look like little monks.
- One expert says, “Although the puffins are vocal at their breeding colonies, they are silent at sea.”
A time to be noisy and a time to refrain from noise. Probably a good way to live.