Verse > Anthologies > J. C. Squire, ed. > A Book of Women’s Verse
J. C. Squire, ed.  A Book of Women’s Verse.  1921.
To Flush, My Dog
By Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806–1861)
LOVING friend, the gift of one
Who her own true faith has run
  Through thy lower nature,
Be my benediction said
With my hand upon thy head,        5
  Gentle fellow creature!
Like a lady’s ringlets brown,
Flow thy silken ears adown
  Either side demurely
Of thy silver-suited breast,        10
Shining out from all the rest
  Of thy body purely.
Darkly brown thy body is,
Till the sunshine striking this
  Alchemize its dullness,        15
When the sleek curls manifold
Flash all over into gold,
  With a burnished fullness.
Underneath my stroking hand,
Startled eyes of hazel bland        20
  Kindling, growing larger,
Up thou leapest with a spring,
Full of prank and curveting,
  Leaping like a charger.
Leap! thy broad tail waves a light,
Leap! thy slender feet are bright,
  Canopied in fringes;
Leap—those tasselled ears of thine
Flicker strangely, fair and fine,
  Down their golden inches.        30
Yet, my pretty, sportive friend,
Little is ’t to such an end
  That I praise thy rareness!
Other dogs may be thy peers
Haply in these drooping ears,        35
  And this glossy fairness,
But of thee it shall be said,
This dog watched beside a bed
  Day and night unweary,—
Watched within a curtained room,        40
Where no sunbeam brake the gloom
  Round the sick and dreary.
Roses, gathered for a vase,
In that chamber died apace,
  Beam and breeze resigning;        45
This dog only, waited on
Knowing that when light is gone
  Love remains for shining.
Other dogs in thymy dew
Tracked the hares and followed through        50
  Sunny moor or meadow;
This dog only, crept and crept
Next a languid cheek that slept,
  Sharing in the shadow.
Other dogs of loyal cheer
Bounded at the whistle clear,
  Up the woodside hieing;
This dog only, watched in reach
Of a faintly uttered speech,
  Or a louder sighing.        60
And if one or two quick tears
Dropped upon his glossy ears,
  Or a sigh came double,—
Up he sprang in eager haste,
Fawning, fondling, breathing fast        65
  In a tender trouble.
And this dog was satisfied
If a pale thin hand would glide
  Down his dewlaps sloping,—
Which he pushed his nose within,        70
After,—platforming his chin
  On the palm left open.
This dog, if a friendly voice
Call him now to blyther choice
  Than such chamber-keeping,        75
‘Come out!’ praying from the door,—
Presseth backward as before,
  Up against me leaping.
Therefore to this dog will I,
Tenderly not scornfully,        80
  Render praise and favour:
With my hand upon his head,
Is my benediction said
  Therefore, and for ever.
And because he loves me so,
Better than his kind will do
  Often, man or woman,
Give I back more love again
Than dogs often take of men,
  Leaning from my Human.        90
Blessings on thee, dog of mine,
Pretty collars make thee fine,
  Sugared milk make fat thee!
Pleasures wag on in thy tail,
Hands of gentle motion fail        95
  Nevermore, to pat thee!
Downy pillow take thy head,
Silken coverlid bestead,
  Sunshine help thy sleeping!
No fly’s buzzing wake thee up,        100
No man break thy purple cup,
  Set for drinking deep in.
Whiskered cats arointed flee,
Sturdy stoppers keep from thee
  Cologne distillations;        105
Nuts lie in thy path for stones,
And thy feast-day macaroons
  Turn to daily rations!
Mock I thee, in wishing weal?—
Tears are in my eyes to feel        110
  Thou art made so straitly,
Blessing needs must straiten too,—
Little canst thou joy or do,
  Thou who lovest greatly.
Yet be blessèd to the height
Of all good and all delight
  Pervious to thy nature;
Only loved beyond that line,
With a love that answers thine,
  Loving fellow creature.        120

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