The Sending of the Animals
For animals, you say were "sent"
For man's free use and nutriment.
Pray, then, inform me and be candid,
Why came they aeons before man did,
To spend long centuries, on earth
Awaiting their devourer's birth?
Those ill-timed chattels sent from heaven,
Were, sure, the maddest gift e'er given -
"sent" for man's use (can we believe it?)
When there was no man to receive it!
To pray for animals, the Bishop vows,
Is not canonical. Who prays for cows?
But prey upon them - that's the road to take.
Behold the Bishop blessing his beefsteak!
Mr Facing Both ways
When the Huntsman claims praise for the killing of foxes,
Which else would bring ruin to farmer and land,
Yet kindly imports them, preserves them, assorts them,
There's a dicrepance I fain understand.
When the Butcher makes boast of the killing of cattle,
That would multiply fast and the world over-run,
Yet so carefully breeds them, rears, fattens and feeds them -
Here also, methinks, a fine cobweb is spun.
Hark you, then, whose profession or pastime is killing!
To dispel your benignant illusions I'm loth;
But be one or the other, my double faced brother,
Be slayer or saviour - you cannot be both.
The air was full of summer sounds;
The lambs were gaily bleating;
Small birds were gossiping around,
Their joyful news repeating.
In tones vociferously clear
Rooks chattered overhead.
"Sweet creatures! How I love to hear
Dumb Animals," she said.
And as they parleyed each with each
Their thoughts and fancies showing,
It seemed as though a flood of speech
This earth were overflowing.
Methought with every breath that moved,
A gift of tongues was shed,
"How beautiful! I've always loved
Dumb Animals," she said.
What mocking elf, on impish mischief bent,
Called Man, this barbarous Man, the Sapient;
Man, who, disdainful of the nobler way,
Still lives by rapine, a dull beast of prey,
Nor spares, if so a savage gust he win,
To rob his fellows or devour his kin?
Yet nearer than he knew that jester came
To give rapacious Man the fitting name;
For change one single letter, and behold -
In "Homo Rapiens" the true tale is told!
In an unpublished letter dated 17 February 1927, the poet Ralph Hodgson suggested to Salt a few additional lines to the above verse:
Or if that's not a civil thing to do
Though every Pytebley gatepost knows it's true,
And every stick of Altear proves it, too -
Why - still to rob the jester of his joke
Drop off the R - but drop it with a pang
Of shame at foisting him on better folk:
Gorilla, Gibbon, Chimpanzee, Orang!