Works in the Herald 1936

The other day an Australian terrier, when left in a locked sedan in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, pressed his paw on the klaxon control and attracted such a huge and inquisitive crowd that police were needed to restore orderly traffic.

And these are beings I had deemed wise gods ....
   An old dog said to me the other day,
While we were searching in the garden clods
   For valuable bones long stored away,
That things moved gravely in the world of men
   And, in far countries, war hung in the air;
Because of passions stirred by tongue and pen,
   Suspicion, envy, strife stalked everywhere.
He was a very wise old dog indeed,
So I, a youthful terrier, gave heed.

A man, he told me, was much like a dog,
   In that both of them lived for bones and fights.
And, lately, human minds groped in a fog
   Of sad confusion.  Talk of tribal rights
By loud-mouthed barkers stirred up slumbering greeds,
   Bulldog, Alsatian, Dachshund, Mongrel growled,
And trouble brewed among the differing breeds,
   Till, vexed by clamor, all sat up and howled ....
All this he told; and I was much cast down
When later, with my boss, I drove to town.

A thoughtless man, my boss.  Troubled, forlorn,
   With what I'd heard, he left me in the car.
Soon, reaching out a paw, I blew the horn -
   (You know what these loquacious humans are)
I'd meant to call him.  But, to my surprise,
   Vast crowds of men, on urgent business bent,
Paused, listened, gazed at me with goggling eyes
   As if in wonder at some strange event.
With foolish faces, wholly at a loss,
They gaped. I went on blowing for the boss.

And then policemen came and moved them on.
   They went, reluctantly, as if in doubt,
Some wonder might occur when they had gone
   And they should miss it.  Then the boss came out.
And high time, too!  But, as away we sped,
   I thought of bones, and fights, and men, and life,
And all the things that wise old dog had said.
   Those vacant faces!  Could these banish strife
With human reason?  Vague, dull-witted clods ....
And these are beings I had deemed wise gods!

Herald, 28 May 1936

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2002-03