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Camels

  • The camel carries on his dreary circular task with his usual slow and pompous step and head poised superciliously, as if it were a ritual affair above the comprehension of the vulgar; and no doubt he comforts himself for the dullness of life by a sense of virtue, like many other formalists beside him.

  • The camel is an ugly animal, seen from above. Its shoulders slope formless like a sack, its silly little ears and fluff of bleached curls behind them have a respectable, boarding-house look, like some faded neatness that dresses for propriety but never dressed for love.

  • Eight of them [camels] came padding past our door at dusk as we came up the steps; rolling along like waves in the half light. They have a very soft footfall, as if they were treading on dust.

  • Ah, the camel of Cairo! ... He went quietly and comfortably through the narrowest lanes and the densest crowds by the mere force of his personality. He was the most impressive living thing we saw in Egypt, not excepting two Pashas and a Bey. He was engaged with large philosophies, one could see that ...

  • The camels were thunderstruck at the sight of that ocean. They had never seen so much water. Globs of foam raced up the beach and tickled their feet so that they jumped along on all fours — Bub nearly sent me flying. They would stop, turn to stare at it, leap sideways, look at one another with their noses all pointed and ridiculous, then stare at it again, then leap forward again.

  • The red Sahara in an angry glow, / With amber fogs, across its hollows trailed / Long strings of camels, gloomy-eyed and slow ...

    • Jean Ingelow,
    • "The Four Bridges," The Poetical Works of Jean Ingelow ()
  • Ye great slow-moving ones, faithful as care is faithful, / Uncouth as dreams may be, sluggish as far-off ships, — / What bring ye me, O camels?

  • ... it is a curious fact that camels walk more quickly and straighter to the sound of singing.

  • ... the camels had strayed far in search of scarce grass. When collected, they displayed a fiendish ingenuity in throwing their loads and tangling themselves up in every possible strap.

  • I looked at our eighteen camels with much anxiety. ... One of them was a living picture of all that a camel should not be. He might have been used succesfully by the Khartoum Camel Corps as an example to enthusiastic young officers of what not to buy.

  • [On the camel:] Many of us have been bitten by his long front teeth, trampled over by his noiseless feet, deafened by his angry roar, and insulted by the protrusion of his contemptuous upper lip. No one who thus knows him at home retains a spark of belief in the beast's patience, amiability, fidelity, or any other virtue.

  • It was a startling takeoff as we rose, reminiscent of the first symptom of a flat spin. Camels should have shock absorbers.

  • Irreproachable as a beast of burden, he is open to many objections as a steed. It is unpleasant, in the first place, to ride an animal which not only objects to being ridden, but cherishes a strong personal antipathy to his rider.

  • The camel has his virtues — so much at least must be admitted; but they do not lie upon the surface.

  • [On the camel:] Its weak point is its morale, and it is here that so much depends on its human master. Discouragement is fatal ... it loses heart, sinks by the wayside and dies.

  • [On the camel:] When it kneels to be laden it always grumbles, growls and shows resentment, but of this the driver takes no notice. He goes on loading up until the moment when the beast suddenly becomes silent; then he knows that the burden is heavy enough, and nothing more is added.

  • ... there are camels which have the quality which in humans is called the revolutionary spirit, and the caravan leader fears to keep one of these in his ranks, because its instinct is always toward revolt against authority. One such camel will sometimes break up the discipline of a whole train, for, owing to the mass mentality of the herd, even peaceful beasts are suddenly infected with the spirit of revolt and in a few minutes the whole caravan is in utter disorder.

  • The camels stand in all their vague beauty — / at night they fold up like pale accordions.

    • Rita Dove,
    • "Notes From a Tunisian Journal," The Yellow House on the Corner ()
  • The camel's a mammal / who grouches and grumps. / I think that he wishes / he didn't have humps.

    • Maxine Kumin,
    • in L.B. Hopkins, ed., To the Zoo: Animal Poems ()
  • A tall camel came swiftly and silently from the far side of Djoser's Pryamid, riding out of the sun like a mirage, kicking out its huge feet as it ran and holding its disdainful head to one side, the upper lip raised in a permanent sneer.