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A , REVERIE ON A DOG E. J. PRATT W ,' E know the symptoms well: that sudden stitch, We call it, in the side, and the cold rheum , . 'That fills the corners of the eyes; the twitch ' Of nerves, and tho'se hot spasms that consume . The strength which would endure the duller pains In creaking joints and knotted sine:ws. Time Accounts for it, pouting his chilling rime, Instead of blood, through arteries and veins And hardening up the walls. I t's just old age':, Plying her tendon needles through and through, That knits the tangles in the cartilage. ' Easy to, see why she should come to men . Under the' stress of three score years and ten, ,But why to dogs and least of all to you. To-night it's hard for me to understand, You are the same great fellow that.I knew, As free-born to the sea as to the land. There is the same wide forehead; the same wise Reflection in your brown and tolerant eyes; The deep curl lustre of your shaggy coat; The massive jet circumference of your throat; Your heave.of shoulders, length of back-but these;' Reminders of your' prime, may not disguise That in the effort of that laboured ·thump , Your tail declared lumbago in the rump; Nor make me disbelieve how ill at ease You feel placing your head upon my knees, For when I spoke your name, your forelegs told As plain as speech itself that you were old. A REVERIE ON, A DOG Not years-but fifteen weeks-it seems to be: _ The span of a canine biography. We had you as a pup, a ball of fur, Without a bone in your anatomy. 'No leopard's cub was ever livelier. I do not know the kind of lubrication that Was rendered to your gristle from your fat. You tied yourself in skeins and then untied, Qr with your teeth into a stick you hung, Like a, blood-le~ch to a swimmer, as we swung You over water from a schooner's side. A whistle acted like a hidden spring, Releasing inward levers, wheels and traps; Your leaps were antics of a crazy thing, -Your barks-a series of percussion caps. And you were brought up somewhat like a child: We-teased and petted you and leathered you, We sent you to your kennel, tethered you, And put yo~ on short rations for your wild , And freakish ways; and often did we turn You with a broomstick out of doors To howl the livelong night that you might learn To have respect for kitchen mats' and floors. You don't forget' the evening when you kept Your vigil'waiting till the household slept, Slunk up the stairs, entered the attic, stole Into a cupboard, and began to chew The life out of a silver-buckled shoe. You caught it like a muskrat without warning; You tore the clasp and uppers from the sole, And then slept on the carnage till the morriing, When Aunt Marie with her keen tongue and keener Strap, sauntered in, and with a master-stroke' 41 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY That caught you flush upon the quarters, woke Your conscience to its first high misdemeanour. But when you grew to adult strength and 'size We thought it most absurd to scandalize Your judgment with such capers a~ debase The minds of other dogs about the place. What greater training nonsense can be known , Than this-to whistle for a dog full-grown, Especially if old and adipose', And bid him stand upon his two hind l~gs, Silent with forepaws drooping as he begs A lump of sugar placed upon his' nose, While someone counted up to :five or six; Or dress him up in ,scarlet coat and pants, And make him balance on one leg or· dance As if he were a m'onkey: now, these tricks Might well pert,ain to Forns or Pekinese And other breeds of sofa pedigrees, But not to you who scorning a command, The circus gesture of a whip or hand, But just for fun, would never hesitate To make a clear...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1712-5278
Print ISSN
0042-0247
Pages
pp. 40-48
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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