Charles Mackay

(1814-1889 / Scotland)

The Pilgrims Dog - Poem by Charles Mackay

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There came a pilgrim to the gate,
An aged man was he,
And he sat him down upon a stone,
And sighed most bitterly:
The night was cold,-the fierce winds howled
With loud and blustering din,
So, to restore his drooping strength,
We asked the good man in.

'Now sit thee down, thou aged man,
'Here's ale an thou art dry,
'And tell us now what aileth thee,
'And wherefore thou dost sigh.'
The aged man he sat him down,
He drank no wine nor ale,
But shook the damp dew from his cloak,
And thus began his tale:

'O! hoary is my head, and grey,
'For many years I've seen,
'And over many a distant land
'My weary feet have been:
'And I have braved the summer heat,
'And borne the winter cold,
'Without a murmur or complaint,
'Though poor, and very old.

'But then I had a faithful friend,
'Companion of my way,
'Who jogged contented by my side
'For many a weary day;
'Who shared my crust, when crust I had,
'At noon beneath a hill,
'And who, when I had none to give,
'Was grateful for the will:

'Who, when benighted on our road,
'And far from barn or bield,
'Lay down contented at my feet,
'In many a stubble field;
'Who, when the world looked harshly down,
'Was never false or cold,
'But looked up kindly in my face,
'To cheer the pilgrim old.

'Long time had we companions been,
'In every changeful weather,
''Mid frost and snow, and driving sleet,
'We'd trudged along together;
'And now he lies upon the road
'Ah! cold and dead lies he,
'And I am in the world alone,
'Alone in my misery!'

A tear ran down the old man's cheek,
But he wiped it quick away
'My blessing with you,' the pilgrim said,
'Nay, hinder me not, I pray;
'For I go to the spot where in death he lies,
'To the sod all wet with dew,
'With a bursting heart to make a grave,
'And bury that friend so true!'

'Nay, hold, good man, art thou a monk
'Of orders grey or white,
'To breathe for the soul of thy parted friend
'The prayers of the Christian rite?'
The old man sighed, and shook his head
'No Christian might he be,
'Though many Christians that I wot of,
'Are not so good as he!

'Nothing was he-but a poor man's dog,
' A good one and a bold;
' Alas for me, that worth so tried
' Should ever be dead and cold!'
That aged man went out alone,
Alone and sad went he,
And bent his course adown the hill
Where grows you spreading tree.

The morning sun rose up again,
The lark began to sing,
And village girls went forth to draw
Fresh water from the spring;
And when they came beneath the tree,
The tree all dead and sear,
That pilgrim old was writing there
The words ye now shall hear.


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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 18, 2012



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