Animal Poems 

The Bell of Atri

1. There was a king, long years ago;
His name, historian doth not know.
He lived beneath Italian skies,
A noble monarch, just and wise.

 2. That he might serve his people well,
In a high tower he hung a bell.
He who was wronged had but to ring
The bell of justice, for the king
Was bound to make the humblest prayer
The subject of his royal care.

 3. At first, men rang it every day. 
Rotted at last the rope away, 
And, growing shorter by degrees,
Swayed lightly to each passing breeze.

4. For many a month it idly hung,
No longer needed. No one rung
For justice; men had learned to fear,
And dreaded now the bell to hear.

 5. At length, a wandering grapevine clung
Tight to the rope that idly hung,
And firmly held it, sweetly grasped
As if one hand another clasped.

 6. A starving horse, turned out to die,
One summer day, was passing by;
And browsing where the grapevine hung,
The bell of justice loudly rung.

7. Straightway a royal herald came,|
And saw the horse, half-starved and lame.
He went and told who rung the bell.
The monarch answered; "It is well.

8. The brute for justice doth appeal;
For starving brutes I pity feel.
Go seek his owner out for me,
And tell him this is our decree;
Long as he lives this horse must fare
On oats and grass of his. Beware !
If he again for justice call,
My wrath shall on his owner fall."

 9. Would God to-day there were a bell
That brutes could ring, and thereby tell
The story of their cruel wrongs,
And win the justice that belongs
To every creature, great and small,
For God, their Maker, loveth all.
-Egbert L. Bangs.

An Old Russian Prayer

Hear our prayer, Lord, for all animals,
May they be well-fed and well-trained and happy;
Protect them from hunger and fear and suffering;
And, we pray, protect specially, dear Lord,
The little cat who is the companion of our home,
Keep her safe as she goes abroad,
And bring her back to comfort us.


While picking berries in the wood,
I found that I just never could
Enjoy the flies that round me roar,
Biting my ears until they’re sore;

 One day while picking all alone,
I heard that too familiar drone,
Of a deer fly buzzing mighty near,
Seeking to feast upon my ear.

 I set my bucket on the ground,
As he went whirling round and round,
I slapped and stomped, but all in vain,
He just came zooming back again.

 Then came a roar of silver wings,
As round a shining ‘dragon’ swings,
The fly I had no hope of catching,
From the air that ‘dragon’s snatching!

 I know that he’ll do me no harm,
He parks a moment on my arm,
And in his jaws held tight I spy,
That hateful,
  nasty, biting fly.

 Is that a twinkle in your compound eye,
As you munch down that pesky fly?
If any ‘bug’s’ a friend to me-
You, dragonfly, must surely be!
Temcat 1984