Marxists Internet Archive: Subjects: Marxism and Art: Literature: Children's Literature

Doctor Powderpill

by Kornei Chukovsky

Illustrations: V. Kurchevsky
Translated: D. Rottenberg
Published: Malysh, Moscow, 1978
HTML Markup: For in February, 2002.


Dear old Doctor Powderpill.
If you're ailing, if you're ill
Come and see him and be healed,
Beast and bird of wood and field,
Worm and bug and wolf and bear,
Cow and sheep and goat and hare!
Everyone from everywhere
Will receive his aid and care!

Once a fox came and paid him a call,
"Oh, a wasp stung my back!" Did she squall!
Then a pup came to see him, morose:
"Oh, a hen pecked my poor little nose!"
Mrs. Bunny ran up in a flurry:
"Oh, how sad, how unhappy I am!
My sonny fell under a tram,
My sonny, my bunny
Fell under a tram!

He hopped and he skipped in the street
When a tram came and cut off his feet.
And now he's in bed, poor bunnikin-boy,
My sonny, my bunny, my only joy!"
But the doctor exclaimed, "Never fear!
Just bring your bunnikin here.
I'II make him a new pair of feet
And again he'll skip in the street!"
And they brought him the bunny, poor dear,
So ill, without any feet,
And the doctor sewed on a new pair
And again he could skip in the street.

And his mother, the old Missis Bun,
Danced around and around with her son.
She laughed and she wept with her joy:
"Thank you, Doctor, for curing my boy!"

Then a jackal on a mare
Galloped up from god knows where:
"Here's a telegram for you
From the Hippo, just come through!"
"Come and see us, Doctor,
In Africa, be quick.
Save our children, Doctor,
They're very, very sick!"

"Really? Truly? What is wrong?
Have they been laid up for long?"
"Yes, oh yes, they've got the flu,
Chickenpox and smallpox, too
Measles, mumps, appendicitis,
Malaria and bronchitis.
"Come, dear Doctor Powderpill,
All depends upon your skill!"

"Very well, I'll come, all right,
And help your children in their plight.
Only your address--what is it?
Hill or swamp--what shall I visit?"
"Well, we live in the Sahara,
In the scorching Kalahari,
Up on Mount Fernando-Po,
Where the grumpy Hippo-Pop
Roams the mighty Limpopo."

Then he goes, Powderpill,
And he runs, Powderpill,
Over marsh, over mire, over dale, over hill,
And one single word he repeats, Powderpill:
" Limpopo, Limpopo, Limpopo! "
The snow fell thick and the night was black.
" Hey, Powderpill, turn back, turn back!"
And he dropped, Powderpill, on his face in the snow
"I'm tired, too tired to get up and go!"

All at once grey wolves rushed out from a wood
And ran to the spot where the doctor stood:
"Come, mount us, Doctor, and let's be gone.
Quicker than lightning we'll speed you on!"
On a big grey wolf gallops Powderpill,
And one single word he repeats, Powderpill:
"Limpopo, Limpopo, Limpopo!"


But soon they arrived at a sea,
Roaring, stormy and free,
With waves so fearfully tall
They'd swallow the doctor,
his hat and all!
"Oh dear, if I ever drown
In the waves and go deep,
deep down--
What'll happen to my poor friends
Whom nobody nurses or tends?"

Then a whale from the waters chill
Rose and said: "Climb up, Powderpill,
And like a great big ship
In a jiffy I'II make the trip!"
Up on the whale he gets with a will,
And one single word he repeats,
"Limpopo, Limpopo, Limpopo!"

Then mountains he met of great height,
And he climbed and he climbed until night.
But the mountains grew steeper,
the mountains grew starker,
And the sky became darker and darker.
"Oh, if I don't reach my goal,
If I never get there at all,
What'll happen to my poor friends
Whom nobody nurses or tends?"

And at once from a great big rock
Eagles flew down in a flock:
"Mount us, Doctor, and let's be gone.
Swift as lightning we'll speed you on!"

There on an eagle he sits, Powderpill,
And one single word he repeats, Powderpill:
"Limpopo, Limpopo, Limpopo!"

In Africa, in Africa,
By the mighty Limpopo,
Weeping out his poor old heart,
Sits woeful Hippo-Po.

In Africa, in Africa
He sits beneath a tree
And looks and looks from Africa
Upon the deep blue sea:
"When will the doctor's ship arrive,
Dearie, dearie me!"

The rhinos and the elephants
Keep running up to telephones
Asking with impatience:
"When will he see his patients?"

Nearby the baby hippos
Lie suffering from hiccoughs,
Holding their poor tummies,
Their tummies torn by pain.

The ostrich-chicks, so bad they feel,
Like little pigs they wail and squeal,
The poor dear baby ostriches
Whimper and complain.

They've mumps, appendicitis,
Measles and bronchitis,
Sore throat and tonsillitis,
Their cries are loud and shrill.

They moan and groan in fever:
"Must we wait forever,
Must we wait forever
For Doctor Powderpill? "

Beside them sprawls
a sharp-toothed shark,
A sharp-toothed shark,
A deep-mouthed shark
Whose tots are very ill.

Her poor dear darling sharklings
Are in a dreadful plight:
Their teeth so sharp and sparkling
Keep aching day and night!

Poor grasshopper--o me, o my!
He's hurt his foot and sprained his thigh,
He doesn't jump, he doesn't leap,
But all he does is sob and weep
With tear-drops falling fast:
"Oh, where is Doctor Powderpill,
When will he come at last?"

But look--in the sky
two great eagles appear.
Another ten minutes
and they will be here.
On one sits the doctor
of world-famous skill--
The doctor, their saviour,
the dear Powderpill.
"Hullo to you, Africa,"
loudly he cries.
"Hurrah!" they all greet him
with tears in their eyes.
The eagle flies slower and slower,
The eagle comes lower and lower.

The doctor lands and
runs to their aid
With jam and treacle and
He pats the poor hippos' bellies
And treats them to sweets and jellies
And takes the poor darlings'
Then he runs to the tiger
Who came from the Niger
And then to the ape
Who came from the Cape
And gives them all honey,
Hot milk, egg and honey,
Hot milk, egg and honey,
Hot milk, egg and honey
to cure them.
Ten nights and ten days
Without sleeping he stays,
Ten days and ten nights
He tends the poor mites
And takes the poor
darlings' temperature.

Now at last he's cured the lot,
Every ill and ailing tot,
And they all began to giggle,
Jump and caper, dance and wriggle,

And the huge and fearful shark
Winked its eyes from waters dark
And it laughed and laughed and laughed
As if it suddenly went daft!

And the hippos, dear, wee fellows,
Puffing, whoofing just like bellows,
Roared and laughed and guffawed so
That the oaks rocked to and fro!

Here comes Hippo, here comes Poppo,
Hippo-Poppo, Hippo-Poppo!
Here comes Hippopotamus,
From the great Kilimanjaro
Through sands of the Sahara,
Singing gaily, "Long live doctors
Bringing health to all of us!"