Cicely Fox Smith

(1882-1954 / England)

Animal House


In Animal House (by which title I call
A dwelling whose true name is not that at all)
There are dogs on the sofas and cats on the chairs;
Wherever you sit you get covered with hairs;
While your progress is marked by the yelps and miaous*
Of beasts you have walked on in Animal House.

There’s an Old English bantam that welcomes the dawn,
There’s a cat that sings love-songs all night on the lawn,
There’s a bachelor turtle-dove making sweet moan
And a puppy lamenting because it’s alone;
The rowdiest tavern where topers carouse
Is a meeting of Quakers to Animal House.

There’s a tortoise asleep in the strawberry bed
(They say it’s asleep but it smells a bit dead);
There are rabbits — they tell me they pluck them alive —
And ferrets in hutches and bees in a hive,
And goats, male and female, that merrily browse
On the stockings they hang out at Animal House.

There’s a little green parrot like old Uncle Ned
Without any feathers on the top of its head,
He’s eighty years old and he’s just laid an egg;
There’s a toad and a newt and a thrush with one leg,
A hedgehog, an owl and a Japanese mouse,
But . . . people are nowhere at Animal House.

Submitted: Monday, August 30, 2010

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