Analysis of The Camel's Hump by Rudyard Kipling

This poem goes with the story, How the Camel Got his Hump, one of Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories. It is obviously written for children to impart a moral message: not to be lazy. However, everyone can enjoy the poem and learn the lesson, the value of working.


The Camel’s 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.

Camel’s hump (Metaphor) – (related to the backgroundfolk tale) the lazy state of mind.

hump…lump (internal rhyme) create a sound effect that is easier to chant.

the hump we get – it may be a warning for children to have a physical hump; or else it might be implying the lazy sighing sound we make when we are lazy (or the big sound yawning) or forming a bad state of having a lazy mind. 

Poet warns that if you are lazy, you will get an uglier hump than the hump you have actually seen at the zoo. Poet asks the reader to be occupied with something or you too will get that lazy state of mind or a physical hump like a camel. (he may be warning to have an ugly physical structure if someone do not exercise his/her body)

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!

too-oo-oo/do-oo-oo (refrain) – emphasizes and the rhyming makes it easier to recite; further this structure appeals the children.

Cameelious – (no dictionary meaning!) it may be a word utter by children (we hear some children make certain words to introduce certain things) I feel that this word is used to imply ‘a hump like camels’. This poem is written for children; this kind of words attract the children.

black and blue – in literary terms colours have meanings. Like black to death and blue to life; but here I think colours have used in their exact meanings to appeal the child reader. Can you image a hump that is black and blue in colour? Is it beautiful or ugly? (absurd of course!)

Here the poet emphasizes using repetitions of rhyme schemes, that if someone is lazy, he or she will have a camel’s hump no matter whether they are children or adults.

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;

(internal rhymes) in each lines – use of alliteration (consonant repetitions) create an effect of lazy and lethargic tone to the poem.

snarely-early, grunt-growl (onomatopoeia) create a sound effect of a lazy and unpleasant picture.

This stanza shows the results of being lazy. In our every movement, actions and behavior we look clumsy and unpleasant if we are lazy.    

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!

Repetition of previous stanza, if you have that lazy state of mind, you should have a place to hide yourself or else others might see the camel’s hump in you!

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;

ill is not to sit still (assonance) – create a positive effect as this stanza gives a cure to the problem.

The stanza suggests to work outside your dwelling till you sweat. As poet suggest doing garden works or cultivation will definitely positive results. It exercises your body and mind which results dispelling the lazy state of mind, the camel’s hump. It further suggests that you should have the habit of cultivation for yourself which gives benefits with regard to the economy of the house.  

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!

Djinn – a spirit (related to the folk tale)

Poet explains that if you exercise yourself, you will understand the cause behind your lazy state of mind which is not mingling with the nature. The nature expect human to cultivate by themselves and be a part of nature’s procedure: being self-sufficient. For those who do not follow this rule, will get punishments – punishment like Djinn giving the camel a hump.  

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! 

Poet repeats the same idea personalizing it to his life. Therefore, poet request kids and grown-ups to engage themselves in a productive physical activity to avoid having the ugly camel’s hump.

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

Hope you understand the poem well. Do share it with your friend to impart the message. If you have different ideas why don't you share them in the comments section. 

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  1. Thanks your appreciation is useful

  2. thank you, this helps a lot and it is very useful

    1. Happy you found it useful. Thanks for waiti g to leave a good comment.

  3. Thank you very much for sharing your knowledge with us. This is very useful .
    Appreciate your hard work.
    All the very best Sir.

    1. Thanks. Though this is a hard work, comments like yours give me an energy boost.

  4. thanks , helped a lot from this...

  5. It was a very nice explanation.Helped a lot.Thank you.

  6. May God bless you for your effort

  7. Thank you for your help. This is very useful for literature students that who are learn it

  8. Are there any other thematic ideas generated by the poem except laziness

    1. The moral of the poem is not to be lazy but shed sweat to make the life successful.

  9. Is there sarcasm embedded here? If so where exactly?

    1. we added a new post regarding this, please read the camel's hump as a depiction of satire.