Buckley and Suscipe

This poem made me cry at a time when I needed to cry: I think of all the older ladies I know whose love is for animals and I understand! I am not naturally misanthropic, but there is something about the tenderness needed to look after an animal, and the whole-hearted trust and love you get in return which almost makes it love of a higher order. Alice Thomas Ellis said, “There is no reciprocity. Men love women, women love children, children love hamsters.” This could be uncomfortably true now that my children are reared. I have to depend on poetry to move my hardened heart.

darling Cairo













The House Dog’s Grave ( Haig , an English bulldog )

I’ve changed my ways a little : I cannot now
Run with you in the evenings along the shore,
Except in a kind of dream : and you, if you dream a moment,
You see me there.

So leave awhile the paw-marks on the front door
Where I used to scratch to go out or in,
And you’d soon open; leave on the kitchen floor
The marks of my drinking-pan.

I cannot lie by your fire as I used to do
On the warm stone,
Nor at the foot of your bed; no, all the night through
I lie alone.

But your kind thought has laid me less than six feet
Outside your window where firelight so often plays,
And where you sit to read — and I fear often grieving for me –
Every night your lamplight lies on my place.

You,man and woman, live so long, it is hard
To think of you ever dying
A little dog would get tired, living so long.
I hope then when you are lying

Under the ground like me your lives will appear
As good and joyful as mine.
No, dear, that’s too much hope : you are not so well cared for
As I have been.

And never have know the passionate undivided
Fidelities that I knew.
Your minds are perhaps too active, too many-sided….
But to me you were true.

You were never masters, but friends. I was your friend.
I loved you well, and was loved. Deep love endures
To the end and far past the end. If this is my end,
I am not lonely, I am not afraid, I am still yours.

Robinson Jeffers. 1941.

my mum mitt Mollie

About Tricia Rose

Not distracted by shiny objects.
This entry was posted in Family, the meaning of life. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Reciprocity

  1. jen says:

    Beautiful poem and wonderful pictures and sentiments. I have a picture of Robinson Jeffers house at Big Sur, but have not read much of his work. I too have been turning to poetry.

  2. Vicki says:

    Oh my god – the tears.

    ..”you are not so well cared for
    As I have been.” It’s the least that we can do for the ultimate love and companionship of our dear wee loved ones.

    My boy Jack is in his twilight years, and this poem had me cuddling him and breathing deeply into his coat, never wanting to let go. As one day I know I must.

    Thank you for this truly touching poem.

  3. tammy says:

    terrible warm happy loving sad anguished tears.
    and your mom is beautiful. even with that surprised look.
    and cairo . . . well.
    that little face.

  4. PP says:

    I sometimes stand outside myself and look in at me loving my dog as much as I do and I am amazed by it. I am constantly surprised by just the fact of living with animals – how we become a family or a pack, how close we can be. I do think it one of the most remarkable things about people – the fact and the way they live with animals.

    So (to whip my soapbox out from under the curtain for a brief moment) what I most wish is that we people could find a way to show more kindness and care to the animals who become food for us.

  5. Yes, absolutely. I’m crying too.

  6. leslie says:

    i cried when you emailed this to me. didn’t realize until now that you’d also posted it here. thank you, dear tricia. i’m pretty sure lily thanks you, too.

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