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The Colonel (1 Viewer)


Staff member
damn- short poetry at its best- a powerful indictment about our disregard for the aged. Understaffed nursing homes that put once dignified souls into a trash heap.

That's my interpretation of this searing piece. well done..

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Not knowing who Colonel Hathi is, I miss whatever nuance is intended. From the context of the poem, I gather that he is someone of great pride and achievement. (I looked him up. I haven’t read The Jungle Book or seen the Movie) The end of the poem is telling. it explains the poet’s message so there’s really no room for interpretation.

You might allude to his animal nature. There is always the metaphor of “the elephant in the room”

he's old, gentle
dignified, despite
being crammed into corners
completely ignored

Colonel Hathi
looks like an elephant

in rooms too small
Last edited:


Senior Member
Hi rcallaci - thank you very much. That is very kind. Yes your interpretation is certainly what the poem has become and the overarching theme, I couldn't have put it better myself, it was a bit of a fluke how it all came together though, which I will go into in more detail in my response to...
Tim - thank you for having a look at my poem and going to the trouble of looking stuff up. Yes it originally started with me solely thinking about the idea of 'the elephant in the room'. How that would be practically and metaphorically. So I imagined perhaps a family sat around a dinner table ad wrote -

'being crammed into corners
in rooms far too small
completely ignored'

I hoped that would cover it both as if he were a metaphor or real, then I played with the idea of him being real and what personality traits he would need to endure such a situation, which I stuck at the top. I didn't want it to be obvious but realised that with all the trunk and tusk references cut it might be too subtle so I thought on famous elephants. They all seemed to obvious. But Colonel Hathi (he's just Hathi in the book) I suddenly realised it added an entire new dimension and opened up all the possibilities for metaphors with the treatment of the elderly. Social care, the forgotten people, the relatives shunted away, is all a big fat 'elephant in the room' - people don't want to think about it, or fund it. So it came together very fortunately. I hoped to make it work in a literal, metaphorical and human way. Leave all interpretations open. A human in a care home, a real elephant in a room, or as a metaphor, or a combination. I very much like your advice, but worry it might tie the meaning down to just one of these readings. For i quite like the thought of him being a real elephant, in which case the ending is ironic and sad. I will have to think.
Thanks for both your thoughts, really much appreciated, all the best Bob, Tim, Cheers petergrimes