Arimathea
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O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.
Wednesday, December 17, A.D. 2008
Man’s Best Friend

You have probably already seen this video, but I wanted to post it, anyway. It shows footage taken by government monitors on a busy highway in Chile. In it, one dog wanders onto the highway and is hit by a car. Afterward, another dog comes along and pulls the injured or dead dog to the highway median. It is disturbing to watch the first dog get hit, but the attempted rescue by the second dog is extraordinary:

You can read the Los Angeles Times article, “Hero dog pulls another dog from oncoming traffic.”

I always find these stories amazing. Throughout recorded history, animals, and especially man’s best friend, have again and again shown themselves to be remarkable creatures. I pity anyone who knows not the love of a dog. Such cannot be said of Rudyard Kipling, who wrote the following three poems.

“His Apologies”

Master, this is Thy Servant. He is rising eight weeks old.
He is mainly Head and Tummy. His legs are uncontrolled.
But Thou hast forgiven his ugliness, and settled him on Thy knee . . .
Art Thou content with Thy Servant? He is very comfy with Thee.

Master, behold a Sinner! He hath committed a wrong.
He hath defiled Thy Premises through being kept in too long.
Wherefore his nose has been rubbed in the dirt and his self-respect has been bruised.
Master, pardon Thy Sinner, and see he is properly loosed.

Master, again Thy Sinner! This that was once Thy Shoe,
He has found and taken and carried aside, as fitting matter to chew.
Now there is neither blacking nor tongue, and the Housemaid has us in tow,
Master, remember Thy Servant is young, and tell her to let him go!

Master, extol Thy Servant, he has met a most Worthy Foe!
There has been fighting all over the Shop—and into the Shop also!
Till cruel umbrellas parted the strife (or I might have been choking him yet),
But Thy Servant has had the Time of his Life—and now shall we call on the vet?

Master, behold Thy Servant! Strange children came to play,
And because they fought to caress him, Thy Servant wentedst away.
But now that the Little Beasts have gone, he has returned to see
(Brushed—with his Sunday collar on) what they left over from tea.

Master, pity Thy Servant! He is deaf and three parts blind.
He cannot catch Thy Commandments. He cannot read Thy Mind.
Oh, leave him not to his loneliness; nor make him that kitten’s scorn.
He hath had no other God than Thee since the year that he was born.

Lord, look down on Thy Servant! Bad things have come to pass.
There is no heat in the midday sun, nor health in the wayside grass.
His bones are full of an old disease—his torments run and increase.
Lord, make haste with Thy Lightnings and grant him a quick release!

“Dinah in Heaven”

She did not know that she was dead
But, when the pang was o’er,
Sat down to wait her Master’s tread
Upon the Golden Floor,

With ears full-cock and anxious eyes,
Impatiently resigned;
But ignorant that Paradise
Did not admit her kind.

There was one step along the Stair
That led to Heaven’s Gate;
And, till she heard it, her affair
Was—she explained—to wait.

And she explained with flattened ear,
Bared lip and milky tooth—
Storming against Ithuriel’s Spear
That only proved her truth!

Sudden—far down the Bridge of Ghosts
That anxious spirits clomb—
She caught that step in all the hosts,
And knew that he had come.

She left them wondering what to do,
But not a doubt had she.
Swifter than her own squeal she flew
Across the Glassy Sea;

Flushing the Cherubs everywhere,
And skidding as she ran,
She refuged under Peter’s Chair
And waited for her man.

There spoke a Spirit out of the press,
Said:—“Have you any here
That saved a fool from drunkenness,
And a coward from his fear?

“That turned a soul from dark to day
When other help was vain;
That snatched it from wan hope and made
A cur a man again?”

“Enter and look,” said Peter then,
And set the Gate ajar.
“If I know aught of women and men
I trow she is not far.”

“Neither by virtue, speech nor art
Nor hope of grace to win;
But godless innocence of heart
That never heard of sin:

“Neither by beauty nor belief
Nor white example shown.
Something a wanton—more a thief—
But—most of all—mine own.”

“Enter and look,” said Peter then,
“And send you well to speed;
But, for all that I know of women and men
Your riddle is hard to read.”

Then flew Dinah from under the Chair,
Into his arms she flew—
And licked his face from chin to hair
And Peter passed them through!

“The Power of the Dog”

There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie—
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart to a dog to tear.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find—it’s your own affair—
But . . . you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone—wherever it goes—for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ‘em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-term loan is as bad as a long—
So why in—Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

I thank John Derbyshire for bringing this last poem to my attention.

Posted by Joseph on Wednesday, December 17, Anno Domini 2008
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