Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE DANCING BEAR; RECOMMENDED TO THE ADVOCATES OF THE SLAVE TRADE, by ROBERT SOUTHEY



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THE DANCING BEAR; RECOMMENDED TO THE ADVOCATES OF THE SLAVE TRADE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Rare music! I would rather hear cat-courtship
Last Line: Hath baffled justice and humanity!
Subject(s): Animals; Bears; Slavery; Serfs


Rare music! I would rather hear cat-courtship
Under my bed-room window in the night,
Than this scraped catgut's screak. Rare dancing too!
Alas, poor Bruin! How he foots the pole
And waddles round it with unwieldy steps,
Swaying from side to side! . . The dancing-master
Hath had as profitless a pupil in him
As when he would have tortured my poor toes
To minuet grace, and made them move like clockwork
In musical obedience. Bruin! Bruin!
Thou art but a clumsy biped! . . And the mob
With noisy merriment mock his heavy pace,
And laugh to see him led by the nose! . . themselves
Led by the nose, embruted, and in the eye
Of Reason from their Nature's purposes
As miserably perverted.
Bruin-Bear!
Now could I sonnetize thy piteous plight,
And prove how much my sympathetic heart
Even for the miseries of a beast can feel,
In fourteen lines of sensibility.
But we are told all things were made for Man;
And I'll be sworn there's not a fellow here
Who would not swear 'twere hanging blasphemy
To doubt that truth. Therefore as thou wert born,
Bruin! for Man, and Man makes nothing of thee
In any other way, . . . most logically
It follows, thou wert born to make him sport;
That that great snout of thine was form'd on purpose
To hold a ring; and that thy fat was given thee
For an approved pomatum!
To demur
Were heresy. And politicians say,
(Wise men who in the scale of reason give
No foolish feelings weight,) that thou art here
Far happier than thy brother Bears who roam
O'er trackless snow for food; that being born
Inferior to thy leader, unto him
Rightly belongs dominion; that the compact
Was made between ye, when thy clumsy feet
First fell into the snare, and he gave up
His right to kill, conditioning thy life
Should thenceforth be his property; . . besides,
'Tis wholesome for thy morals to be brought
From savage climes into a civilized state,
Into the decencies of Christendom. . . .
Bear! Bear! it passes in the Parliament
For excellent logic this! What if we say
How barbarously Man abuses power?
Talk of thy baiting, it will be replied,
Thy welfare is thy owner's interest,
But were thou baited it would injure thee,
Therefore thou are not baited. For seven years
Hear it, O Heaven, and give ear, O Earth!
For seven long years, this precious syllogism
Hath baffled justice and humanity!








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