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Kindness to Animals
Joseph Ashby-Sterry


Speak gently to the herring and kindly to the calf,
Be blithesome with the bunny, at barnacles don’t laugh!
Give nuts unto the monkey, and buns unto the bear,
Ne’er hint at currant jelly if you chance to see a hare!
Oh, little girls, pray hide your combs when tortoises draw nigh,
And never in the hearing of a pigeon whisper Pie!
But give the stranded jelly-fish a shove into the sea,—
Be always kind to animals wherever you may be!

Oh, make not game of sparrows, nor faces at the ram,
And ne’er allude to mint sauce when calling on a lamb.
Don’t beard the thoughtful oyster, don’t dare the cod to crimp,
Don’t cheat the pike, or ever try to pot the playful shrimp.
Tread lightly on the turning worm, don’t bruise the butterfly,
Don’t ridicule the wry-neck, nor sneer at salmon-fry;
Oh, ne’er delight to make dogs fight, nor bantams disagree,—
Be always kind to animals wherever you may be!

Be lenient with lobsters, and ever kind to crabs,
And be not disrespectful to cuttle-fish or dabs;
Chase not the Cochin-China, chaff not the ox obese,
And babble not of feather-beds in company with geese.
Be tender with the tadpole, and let the limpet thrive,
Be merciful to mussels, don’t skin your eels alive;
When talking to a turtle don’t mention calipee—
Be always kind to animals wherever you may be.

This poem is in the public domain.


Joseph Ashby-Sterry by Harry Furniss, pen and ink, NPG 6251 (2).
This sketch owned by the National Portrait Gallery in London. Used here with permission.

Joseph Ashby-Sterry (1836 - 1917) was an English author and artist who wrote novels, essays, and poetry. The only other details we've been able to unearth about his life thus far is that he lived in London and enjoyed rowing and sailing.

Post New Comment:
Kay Armstrong Baker:
I will save this for the "Animal Service" at my Unitarian Universalist Church that we have every year! Kay Armstrong Baker
Posted 07/25/2012 08:51 AM
The animjals of creation were to be under our dominion. We have always used them for healthy substanance. I agree with not abusing them when we are in their company unecessarily. This poem can give one a permanent guilty conscience. It has pleasant chiding and a bit of humor. Thanks.
Posted 07/25/2012 06:53 AM
nancy scott: Follow this link to the full text of Cucumber Chronicles, A Book to be Taken in Slices, 1887. Don't you just love the title? These are short stories. The book in the Harvard University Library and has been digitalized.
Posted 07/25/2012 05:11 AM

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