Sir Bat-ears





Sir Bat-ears was a dog of birth

And bred in Aberdeen,

But he favoured not his noble kin

And so his lot is mean,

And Sir Bat-ears sits by the almshouses

On the stones with grass between.



Under the ancient archway

His pleasure is to wait

Between the two stone pineapples

That flank the weathered gate;



And old, old alms-persons go by,

All rusty, bent and black,

"Good-day, good-day, Sir Bat-ears,"

They say and stroke his back.



And old, old alms-persons go by,

Shaking and well-nigh dead,

"Good-night, good-night, Sir Bat-ears!"

They say and pat his head.



So courted and considered

He sits out hour by hour,

Benignant in the sunshine

And prudent in the shower.



(Nay, stoutly can he stand a storm

And stiffly breast the rain,

That rising when the cloud is gone

He leaves a circle of dry stone

Whereon to sit again.)



A dozen little door steps

Under the arch are seen,

A dozen aged alms-persons

To keep them bright and clean:



Two wrinkled hands to scour each step

With a square of yellow stone--

But print-marks of Sir Bat-ears' paws

Bespeckle every one.



And little eats an alms-person,

But, though his board be bare,

There never lacks a bone of the best

To be Sir Bat-ears' share.



Mendicant muzzle and shrewd nose,

He quests from door to door;

Their grace they say--his shadow gray

Is instant on the floor,

Humblest of all the dogs there be,

A pensioner of the poor.





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