Monday, June 15, 2009

A Petition For A Mouse

There is a poem that sums up how I approach the world and all of it's treasures. Why do people help ducks cross the road? Why do people care about the environment so much? I believe it lies in the deeply held knowledge that all of creation is a beautiful thing and even if an action does not benefit a human, it is still worthwhile because it's the right thing to do. If there was an all-powerful force out there (god anyone?) that had the power to assist you with a small exertion of its energy, you would want it to.

I often think about a story where a girl is throwing many starfish that have washed up onto the shore back into the sea, there are hundreds of them and an old man walking by tells her that there are too many starfish for her to make a difference. She picks another one up, throws it back into the sea and tells the old man: "It made a difference to that one". And with that, A Mouse's Petition by Anna Barbauld:

Oh! Hear a pensive captive's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the prisoner's cries.

For here forlorn and sad I sit,
Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th' approaching morn,
Which brings impending fate.

If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
Let not thy strong oppressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

Oh! do not stain with guiltless blood
Thy hospitable heart;
Nor triumph that thy wiles betray'd
A prize so little worth

The scatter'd gleanings of a feast
My scanty meals supply;
But if thine unrelenting heart
Theat slender boon deny.

The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of heaven.

The well taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts tho' matter's varying forms,
In every form the same.

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find,
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

Or, if this transient gleam of day
Be all of life we share,
Let pity plead within thy breast,
That little all to spare.

So may thy hospitable board
With health and peace be crown'd;
And every charm of heartfelt ease
Beneath thy roof be found.

So when unseen destruction lurks,
Which men like mice may share,
May some kind angel clear thy path,
And break the hidden snare.