Tuesday, August 09, 2005

*My Ox Duke*
By 18th Century Poet John Dyer
'Twas on a summer morn, in Stainsford mead
New mown and tedded, while the weary swains,
Louting beneath an oak, their toils relieved;
And some with wanton tale the nymphs beguiled,
And some with song, and some with kisses rude;
Their scythes hung o'er their heads: when my brown ox,
Old labourer Duke, in awkward haste I saw
Run stumbling through the field to reach the shade
Of an old open barn, whose gloomy floor
The lash of sounding flails had long forgot.
In vain his eager haste: sudden old Duke Stopped:
a soft ridge of snow-white little pigs
Along the sacred threshold sleeping lay.
Burnt in the beam, and stung with swarming flies,
He stood tormented on the shadow's edge:
What should he do? What sweet forbearance held His heavy foot from trampling on the weak, To gain his wishes? Hither, hither all, Ye vain, ye proud!
see, humble heaven attends; The fly-teased brute with gentle pity stays,
And shields the sleeping young. O gracious Lord!
Aid of the feeble, cheerer of distress,
In his low labyrinth each small reptile's guide! God of unnumbered worlds! Almighty power! Assuage our pride. Be meek, thou child of man: Who gives thee life, gives every worm to live, Thy kindred of the dust. - Long waiting stood
The good old labourer, in the burning beam,
And breathed upon them, nosed them, touched them soft,
With lovely fear to hurt their tender sides;
Again soft touched them; gently moved his head
From one to one; again, with touches soft,
He breathed them o'er, till gruntling waked and stared
The merry little young, their tails upcurled,
And gambolled off with scattered flight.
Then sprung The honest ox, rejoiced, into the shade.

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