Last Words to a Dumb Friend

Pet was never mourned as you
Purrer of the spotless hue
Plumy tail, and wistful gaze
While you humoured our queer ways,
Or outshrilled your morning call

Up the stairs and through the hall –
Foot suspended in its fall –
While expectant, you would stand
Arched to meet the stroking hand;
Till your way you chose to wend
Yonder, to your tragic end.

Never another pet for me!
Let your place all vacant be;
Better blankness day by day

Than companion torn away.
Better bid his memory fade,
Better blot each mark he made,
Selfishly escape distress
By contrived forgetfulness,
Than preserve his prints to make
Every morn and eve an ache.

From the chair whereon he sat
Sweep his fur nor wince thereat
Rake his little pathways out
From the bushes roundabout;
Smooth away his talons’ mark
From the claw-worn pine-tree bark,
Where he climbed as dusk embrowned
Waiting us who loitered round.

Strange it is this speechless thing,
Subject to our mastering
Subject for his life and food
To our gift, and time, and mood;
Timid pensioner of us Powers,
His existence ruled by ours,
Should, by crossing at a breath
Into safe and shielding death,
By the merely taking hence
Of his insignificance –
Loom as largened to the sense,
Shape as part, above man’s will,
Of the Imperturbable.

As a prisoner, flight debarred,
Exercising in a yard,
Still retain I, troubled, shaken,
Mean estate, by him forsaken;
And this home, which scarcely took

Impress from his little look,
 By his faring to the Dim
Grows all eloquent of him.

Housemate, I can think you still
Bounding to the window-sill,
Over which I vaguely see
Your small mound beneath the tree,
Showing in the autumn shade
That you moulder where you played.

Thomas Hardy


 

 

 

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