Compassion

An Ode

In Celebration of the Centenary of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

I

Backward among the dusky years
A lonesome lamp is seen arise,
Lit by a few fain pioneers
Before incredulous eyes. —
We read the legend that it lights:
" Wherefore beholds this land of historied rights
Mild creatures, despot-doomed, bewildered, plead
Their often hunger, thirst, pangs, prisonment,
In deep dumb gaze more eloquent
Than tongues of widest heed?"

II

What was faint-written, read in a breath
In that year — ten times ten away —
A larger louder conscience saith
More sturdily to-day. —
But still those innocents are thralls
To throbless hearts, near, far, that hear no calls
Of honour towards their too-dependent frail,
And from Columbia Cape to Ind we see
How helplessness breeds tyranny
In power above assail.

III

Cries still are heard in secret nooks,
Till hushed with gag or slit or thud;
And hideous dens whereon none looks
Are sprayed with needless blood.
But here, in battings, patient, slow,
Much has been won — more, maybe, than we know —
And on we labour hopeful. " Ailinon!"
A mighty voice calls: " But may the good prevail!"
And " Blessed are the merciful!"
Calls a yet mightier one.

22 January 1924
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