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The animals too


We should mean all of us: mercy for us all.

First for we who pray for mercy, and then

Mercy for the salmon who goes home again,

For all on Earth who heed their greatest call.


We owe mercy to the merciful on Earth,

And then to every living son and daughter,

Then to our kin of land and sky and water,

Apportioned by awareness and by birth—


For the sum is so much more than we can pay:

Earth’s debt to mercy we have named the Fall;

But the greatest call to us may be the call

To be merciful in every human way.


The plants remain in Paradise, but we,

We could only dream of Eden, and dreamed its

Fiery angel who forced us from its midst:

We tread together east, and gazing back we see


All the creatures that we guide as man and wife,

Who follow in a long and winding row,

From most like us to least, ranked by what they know

Of mortal pain and the tragic sense of life.


All of us: a life lived toward fulfillment

And a death without agony, that none may be

Born, bred or confined without mercy,

And none made homeless, or cruel with intent.


And the fearful symmetry we cannot frame,

That is the innocence—of the tiger in the night

As she gains on the forest deer in flight,

And bears our guilt like she bears our name.


We know enough to say: They know not what they do.

We know but little more.  And knowing thus,

When we pray, Lord have mercy on us,

We should mean all of us—the animals too.

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