Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, OLD PINCHER, SELECTION, by ELIZA COOK



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OLD PINCHER, SELECTION, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When I gave to old dobbin his song and his due
Last Line: Though he said 't was a dew-drop, I know 't was a tear.
Subject(s): Animals; Horses


WHEN I gave to old Dobbin his song and his due,
Apollo I fear'd would look scornfully blue;
I thought he might spurn the low station and blood
And turn such a Pegasus out of his stud.

But another "four-footed" comes boldly to claim
His place beside Dobbin in merits and fame;
He shall have it,—for why should I be over nice,
Since Homer immortalised Ilion and—mice?

I frolick'd, a youngling, wild, rosy, and fat,
When Pincher was brought in the butcher-boy's hat;
And the long-promised puppy was hail'd with a joy
That ne'er was inspired by a gold-purchased toy.

"What a darling!" cried I; while my sire, with a frown,
Exclaimed, "Hang the brute! though 'tis easy to drown";
But I wept at the word, till my sorrowful wail
Won his total reprieve from the rope or the pail.

Regarding his beauty, I'm silent: forsooth,
I've a little old-fashion'd respect for the truth;
And the praise of his colour or shape to advance
Would be that part of history known as romance.

There were some who most rudely denounced him a "cur."
How I hated that name, though I dar'd not demur!
I thought him all fair; yet I'll answer for this,
That the fate of Narcissus could ne'er have been his.

Now Dobbin, the pony, belonged to us all;
Was at every one's service, and every one's call:
But Pincher, rare treasure, possession divine,
Was held undisputed as whole and sole mine.

Together we rambled, together we grew.
Many plagues had the household, but we were the two
Who were branded the deepest; all doings revil'd
Were sure to be wrought by "that dog and that child."

Unkennel'd and chainless, yet truly he served;
No serfdom was known, yet his faith never swerved;
A dog has a heart,—secure that, and you'll find
That love, even in brutes is the safest to bind.

If my own kin or kind had demolish'd my ball,
The transgression were mark'd with a scuffle and squall;
But with perfect consent he might mouth it about,
Till the very last atom of sawdust was out.

When halfpence were doled for the holiday treat,
How I long'd for the comfits, so lusciously sweet:
But cakes must be purchased, for how could I bear
To feast on a luxury Pinch could not share?

I fondled, I fed him, I coax'd or I cuff'd,—
I drove or I led him, I sooth'd or I huff'd:
He had beatings in anger, and huggings in love;
But which were most cruel, 'twere a puzzle to prove.

If he dared to rebel, I might battle and wage
The fierce war of a tyrant with petulant rage:
I might ply him with kicks, or belabour with blows,
But Pincher was never once known to oppose.

Did a mother appear the loud quarrel to learn,
If 'twere only with him it gave little concern:
No ill-usage could rouse him, no insult could chafe;
While Pinch was the playmate, her darling was safe.

If the geese on the common gave signal of fear,
And screams most unmusical startled the ear,
The cause was soon guess'd; for my foremost delight
Was in seeing Pinch put the old gander to flight.

Had the pantry been rifled of remnant of beef,
Shrewd suspicions were form'd of receiver and thief,
For I paused not at crime, and I blush'd not at fibs
That assisted to nurture his well-cover'd ribs.

The warren was sacred, yet he and I dared
To career through its heath till the rabbits were scared:
The gamekeeper threaten'd me Pinch should be shot;
But the threat was by both of us always forgot.

The linen, half-bleach'd, must be rinsed o'er again;
And our footsteps in mud were "remarkably" plain.
The tulips were crush'd, to the gardener's dismay;
And when last we were seen we were bending that way.

But we weathered all gales, and the years sped away,
Till his "bonny black" hide was fast turning to gray;
When accents were heard most alarmingly sad,
Proclaiming that Pincher, my Pincher, was mad.

It was true: his fixed doom was no longer a joke;
He that moment must die: my young heart was nigh broke.
I saw the sure fowling-piece moved from its rest,
And the sob of keen anguish burst forth unsuppress'd.

A shot,—a faint howl,—and old Pincher was dead.
How I wept while the gardener prepared his last bed:
Something fell on his spade too, wet, sparkling, and clear;
Though he said 't was a dew-drop, I know 't was a tear.





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