Friday, December 5, 2008

The Complete Text of Yertle the Turtle



I've gotten a lot of positive feedback about the Yertle references. Thought it might be nice to get the full text up. So here it is - sorry no pictures. If you want to buy the book, Barnes and Nobel is having a "Buy Two Dr. Seuss Books Get One Free" sale!


On the far-away island of Sala-ma-Sond,
Yertle the Turtle was king of the pond.
A nice little pond. It was clean. It was neat.
The water was warm. There was plenty to eat.
The turtles had everything turtles might need.
And they were all happy. Quite happy indeed.

They were… until Yertle, the king of them all,
Decided the kingdom he ruled was too small.
“I’m ruler”, said Yertle, “of all that I see.
But I don’t see enough. That’s the trouble with me.
With this stone for a throne, I look down on my pond
But I cannot look down on the places beyond.
This throne that I sit on is too, too low down.
It ought to be higher!” he said with a frown.
“If I could sit high, how much greater I’d be!
What a king! I’d be ruler of all that I see!”

So Yertle the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And Yertle, the Turtle King, gave a command.
He ordered nine turtles to swim to his stone
And, using these turtles, he built a new throne.
He made each turtle stand on another one’s back
And he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.
And then Yertle climbed up. He sat down on the pile.
What a wonderful view! He could see ‘most a mile!

“All mine!” Yertle cried. “Oh, the things I now rule!
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And, what’s more, beyond that
I’m the king of a blueberry bush and a cat!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”

“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack.”

“You stay in your place while I sit here and rule.
I’m the king of a cow! And I’m the king of a mule!
I’m the king of a house! And a bush! And a cat!
But that isn’t all. I’ll do better than that!
My throne shall be higher!” his royal voice thundered,
“So pile up more turtles! I want ’bout two hundred!”

“Turtles! More turtles!” he bellowed and brayed.
And the turtles ‘way down in the pond were afraid.
They trembled. They shook. But they came. They obeyed.
From all over the pond, they came swimming by dozens.
Whole families of turtles, with uncles and cousins.
And all of them stepped on the head of poor Mack.
One after another, they climbed up the stack.

Then Yertle the Turtle was perched up so high,
He could see forty miles from his throne in the sky!
“Hooray!” shouted Yertle. “I’m the king of the trees!
I’m king of the birds! And I’m king of the bees!
I’m king of the butterflies! King of the air!
Ah, me! What a throne! What a wonderful chair!
I’m Yertle the Turtle! Oh, marvelous me!
For I am the ruler of all that I see!”

Then again, from below, in the great heavy stack,
Came a groan from that plain little turtle named Mack.
“Your Majesty, please… I don’t like to complain,
But down here below, we are feeling great pain.
I know, up on top you are seeing great sights,
But down here at the bottom we, too, should have rights.
We turtles can’t stand it. Our shells will all crack!
Besides, we need food. We are starving!” groaned Mack.

“You hush up your mouth!” howled the mighty King Yertle.
“You’ve no right to talk to the world’s highest turtle.
I rule from the clouds! Over land! Over sea!
There’s nothing, no, NOTHING, that’s higher than me!”

But, while he was shouting, he saw with surprise
That the moon of the evening was starting to rise
Up over his head in the darkening skies.
“What’s THAT?” snorted Yertle. “Say, what IS that thing
That dares to be higher than Yertle the King?
I shall not allow it! I’ll go higher still!
I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will!
I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven!
I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”

But, as Yertle, the Turtle King, lifted his hand
And started to order and give the command,
That plain little turtle below in the stack,
That plain little turtle whose name was just Mack,
Decided he’d taken enough. And he had.
And that plain little lad got a bit mad.
And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!

And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!

And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.
And the turtles, of course… all the turtles are free
As turtles and, maybe, all creatures should be.

by Dr. Seuss

18 comments:

Howard said...

The perfect parable for Helen Thomas standing up to His Holiness this AM.

Marvin8 said...

That's what happened to King Bush II.

Anonymous said...

You guys know Yertle was based on Hitler, right?

Anonymous said...

Who was Mack based on?

KittyKat said...

Mack is based on the people of Germany during that time. This is a great poem and you can learn a lot from reading it.

Anonymous said...

how is this similar to Hitler or even Stalin or even fascism? please?

Anonymous said...

I remember my mom reading this to me on many, many nights. I forgot, or more likely didn't catch, the message of this story. It's essentially the antithesis of Leviathan. Just because Yurtle's king doesn't mean he should be.

And, Anonymous- Leviathan (the core point of which is that the strong should rule the weak) is essentially the core of fascism, or at least fascists would have no problem with the text. Fascism was a movement that emerged in response to the wave of Republican (representative republic, not any modern political party) revolution that was sweeping the world. Fascism intended to bring back the King, and his Divine Right, but they were going to call him the Feurh, or Il Duce, and he was going to fight for the people who were too lowly to govern themselves.

Many are not aware today of what precisely the nature of World War II was. What a titanic clash of forces it was. And how two sides (freedom vs tyranny) fought for world domination. And guess what? We (freedom) won. But that doesn't mean the battle is over.

Remember Yurtle. Remember the lessons of our past. Remember the dead of Europe, the dead of the world. Weep, yes, but then steel your resolve and work on. Honor those who have perished. Honor those who have lived. Reflect. Think. Try.

Anonymous said...

Mack represents Captain America

hkascle said...

I'm pretty sure yertle just represents a freaking turtle..

Anonymous said...

Wow! Look at that turtle go, bro...

RHCP

retrun said...

We are all turtles under the shell

Anonymous said...

The turtles shoulv'e rised in rebellion against him.

Anonymous said...

I think that Yertle is based on large corporation owners, and Mack is based on the laborers that are forced to work in horrific conditions so that the executives who want to make the company more powerful can live the good life and act "all high and mighty".

Anonymous said...

The most amazing writer: Dr. Seuss.
He's amazing! I'm not sure about this Hitler business, I just love his stories.
Just amazing. That's all I can say. :D

Anonymous said...

Dr. Seuss did write this based on the story of Hitler. Yertle is a hungry dictator that used the lowly turles as stepping stools, literally, to expand his empire. Hitler did the same. Dr. Seuss was very vocal and illustrative about his views on Hitler. He has many political cartoons that represent Hitler's tyranny.
But he was also a very smart man. He made this text relational to many subtexts. Yes, corporate greed and control, tyranny, and any president or dictator that has ever started or attempted to start a war over territory and personal gain. He has taken a tale as old as time and made it a story you can read your kids at night.
I admire his work greatly :)

Anonymous said...

*burp*

Isabella Martinez said...

Thanks for posting this poem! It was really helpful, I used it for my poetry recitation final in English class. I think it's amazing how Seuss writes for children, but his literature can be appreciated by adults. As a child, this was one of my favorites, but I have learned to appreciate it even more as a teenager because I never saw or understood the underlying themes of the failures of government.

Anonymous said...

This is the first time for me reading this story to my grandchild. I'm blown away. There are always wonderful messages in Dr. Suess, but this has to be mt alltime favorite. The message encompasses so many representations of who or what Yertle stands for, but bottom line is, there is a force greater than us all and good will alway overcome evil. Let us treat each other with kindness and gratitude; let us accept each other for our roles in life; let us not take more than we can handle; let us remember that we do not know what others are going through and yet when they open their minds and hearts, we should listen and respect. Way to go, Dr. Seuss. I can see how this story represents such a good "sunday" teaching. Thanks for this rehash of what I should renew each and every day of my life.