Roald Dahl

The Nicest Creatures in the World

“My friends, this is the Centipede, and let me make it known
He is so sweet and gentle that (although he’s overgrown)
The Queen of Spain, again and again, has summoned him by phone
To baby-sit and sing and knit and be a chaperone
When nurse is off and all the royal children are alone.”
(“Small wonder,” said a Fireman, “they’re no longer on the throne.”)

“The Earthworm, on the other hand,”
Said James, beginning to expand,
“Is great for digging up the land
And making old soils newer.
Moreover, you should understand
He would be absolutely grand
For digging subway tunnels and
For making you a sewer.”
(The Earthworm blushed and beamed with pride.
Miss Spider clapped and cheered and cried,
“Could any words be truer?”)

“And the Grasshopper, ladies and gents, is a boon
In millions and millions of ways.
You have only to ask him to give you a tune
And he plays and he plays and he plays.
As a toy for your children he’s perfectly sweet;
There’s nothing so good in the shops —
You’ve only to tickle the soles of his feet
And he hops and he hops and he hops.”
(“He can’t be very fierce!” exclaimed
The Head of all the Cops.)

“And now without excuse
I’d like to introduce
This charming Glow-worm, lover of simplicity.
She is easy to install
On your ceiling or your wall,
And although this smacks a bit of eccentricity,
It’s really rather clever
For thereafter you will never
Have the slightest need for using electricity.”
(At which, no less than fifty-two
Policemen cried, “If this is true
That creature’ll get some fabulous publicity!”

“And here we have Miss Spider
With a mile of thread inside her
Who has personally requested me to say
The she’s NEVER met Miss Muffet
On her charming little tuffet —
If she had she’d NOT have frightened her away.
Should her looks sometimes alarm you
Then I don’t think it would harm you
To repeat at least a hundred times a day:
‘I must NEVER kill a spider
I must only help and guide her
And invite her in the nursery to play.’”
(The Police all nodded slightly,
And the Firemen smiled politely,
And about a dozen people cried, “Hooray!”)

“And here’s my darling Ladybird, so beautiful, so kind,
My greatest comfort since this trip began.
She has four hundred children and she’s left them all behind,
But they’re coming on the next peach if they can.”
(The Cops cried, “She’s entrancing!”
All the Firemen started dancing,
And the crowds all started cheering to a man!)

“And now the Silkworm,” James went on,
“Whose silk will bear comparison
With all the greatest silks there are
In Rome of Philadelphia.
If you would search the whole world through
From Paraguay to Timbuctoo
I don’t think you would find one bit
Of silk that could compare with it.
Even the shops in Singapore
Don’t have the stuff. And what is more,
The Silkworm had, I’ll have you know,
The honour, not so long ago,
To spin and weave and sew and press
The Queen of England’s wedding dress.
And she’s already made and sent
A waistcoat for your President.”
(“Well, good for her!” the Cops cried out,
And all at once a mighty shout
Went up around the Empire State,
“Let’s get them down at once! Why WAIT?”