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Wolf Poems

Table of Contents

  1. A Story for a Child by Bayard Taylor
  2. St. Francis and the Wolf by Katherine Tynan
  3. The Boy and the Wolf by John Hookham Frere
  4. Fight of a Buffalo With Wolves by James McIntyre
  5. The Supper by Walter De la Mare

  1. A Story for a Child

    by Bayard Taylor

    Little one, come to my knee!
    Hark, how the rain is pouring
    Over the roof, in the pitch-black night,
    And the wind in the woods a-roaring!

    Hush, my darling, and listen,
    Then pay for the story with kisses;
    Father was lost in the pitch-black night,
    In just such a storm as this is!

    High up on the lonely mountains,
    Where the wild men watched and waited;
    Wolves in the forest, and bears in the bush,
    And I on my path belated.

    The rain and the night together
    Came down and the wind came after,
    Bending the props of the pine-tree roof,
    And snapping many a rafter.

    I crept along in the darkness,
    Stunned, and bruised, and blinded,—
    Crept to a fir with thick-set boughs,
    And a sheltering rock behind it.

    There, from the blowing and raining,
    Crouching, I sought to hide me:
    Something rustled, two green eyes shone,
    And a wolf lay down beside me.

    Little one, be not frightened;
    I and the wolf together,
    Side by side, through the long, long night,
    Hid from the awful weather.

    His wet fur pressed against me;
    Each of us warmed the other;
    Each of us felt, in the stormy dark,
    That beast and man was brother.

    And when the falling forest
    No longer crashed in warning,
    Each of us went from our hiding-place
    Forth in the wild, wet morning.

    Darling, kiss me payment!
    Hark, how the wind is roaring;
    Father's house is a better place
    When the stormy rain is pouring!

  2. St. Francis and the Wolf

    by Katherine Tynan

    This wolf for many a day
    Had scourged and trodden down
    The folk of Agobio town;
    Old was he, lean and gray.

    Dragging a mildewed bone,
    Down from his lair he came,
    Saw in the sunset flame
    Our father standing alone.

    Dust on his threadbare gown,
    Dust on his blessed feet,
    Faint from long fast and heat,
    His light of life died down.

    This wolf laid bare his teeth,
    And growling low there stood;
    His lips were black with blood,
    His eyes were fires of death.

    So for a spring crouched he;
    But the Saint raised his head—
    "Peace, Brother Wolf," he said,
    "God made both thee and me."

    And with the Cross signed him:
    The wolf fell back a-stare,
    Sat on his haunches there,
    Forbidding, black, and grim.

    "Come nearer, in Christ's name,"
    Said Francis, and, so bid,
    Like a small dog that's chid,
    The fierce beast fawning came,

    Trotting against his side,
    And licked the tender hand
    That with soft touch and bland
    Caressed his wicked hide.

    "Brother," the Saint said then,
    "Who gave thee leave to kill?
    Thou hast slain of thine own will
    Not only beasts but men.

    "And God is wroth with thee:
    If thou wilt not repent
    His anger shall be sent
    To smite thee terribly.

    "See, all men hate thy name,
    And with it mothers fright
    The froward child by night:
    Great are thy sin and shame.

    "All true dogs thee pursue;
    Thou shouldst hang high in air,
    Like a thief and murderer,
    Hadst thou thy lawful due.

    "Yet, seeing his hands have made
    Even thee, thou wicked one,
    I bring no malison,
    But blessing bring instead.

    "And I will purchase peace
    Between this folk and thee,
    So love for hate shall be,
    And all thy sinning cease.

    "Say, wilt thou have it so?"
    Thereat, far off, we saw
    The beast lift up his paw
    His tail a-wagging go.

    Our father took the paw
    Into his blessed hand,
    Knelt down upon the sand
    Facing the creature's jaw.

    That was a sight to see:
    Agobio's folk trooped out;
    They heard not all that rout,
    Neither the beast nor he.

    For he was praying yet,
    And on his illumined face
    A shamed and loving gaze
    The terrible wolf had set.

    When they came through the town,
    His hand that beast did stroke,
    He spake unto the folk
    Flocking to touch his gown.

    A sweet discourse was this:
    He prayed them that they make
    Peace, for the Lord Christ's sake,
    With this poor wolf of His;

    And told them of their sins,
    How each was deadlier far
    Than wolves or lions are,
    Or sharks with sword-like fins.

    Afterwards some came near,
    Took the beast's paw and shook,
    And answered his sad look
    With words of honest cheer.

    Our father, ere he went,
    Bade that each one should leave
    Some food at morn and eve
    For his poor penitent.

    And so, three years or more,
    The wolf came morn and even,
    Yea, long forgiven and shriven,
    Fed at each townsman's door;

    And grew more gray and old,
    Withal so sad and mild,
    Him feared no little child
    Sitting in the sun's gold.

    The women, soft of heart,
    Trusted him and were kind;
    Men grew of equal mind;
    None longer stepped apart.

    The very dogs, 'twas said,
    Would greet him courteously,
    And pass his portion by,
    Though they went on unfed.

    But when three years were gone
    He came no more, but died.
    In a cave on the hillside;
    You may count each whitening bone.

    And then it came to pass
    All gently of him spake,
    For Francis his dear sake,
    Whose Brother Wolf this was.

  3. The Boy and the Wolf

    by John Hookham Frere

    A Little Boy was set to keep
    A little flock of goats or sheep;
    He thought the task too solitary,
    And took a strange perverse vagary:
    To call the people out of fun,
    To see them leave their work and run,
    He cried and screamed with all his might, —
    "Wolf! wolf!" in a pretended fright.
    Some people, working at a distance,
    Came running in to his assistance.
    They searched the fields and bushes round,
    The Wolf was nowhere to be found.

    The Boy, delighted with his game,
    A few days after did the same,
    And once again the people came.
    The trick was many times repeated,
    At last they found that they were cheated.
    One day the Wolf appeared in sight,
    The Boy was in a real fright,
    He cried, "Wolf! wolf!" — the neighbors heard,
    But not a single creature stirred.
    "We need not go from our employ, —
    'Tis nothing but that idle boy."
    The little Boy cried out again,
    "Help, help! the Wolf!" he cried in vain.
    At last his master came to beat him.
    He came too late, the Wolf had eat him.

    This shows the bad effect of lying,
    And likewise of continual crying.
    If I had heard you scream and roar,
    For nothing, twenty times before,
    Although you might have broke your arm,
    Or met with any serious harm,
    Your cries could give me no alarm;
    They would not make me move the faster,
    Nor apprehend the least disaster;
    I should be sorry when I came,
    But you yourself would be to blame.

  4. Fight of a Buffalo With Wolves

    by James McIntyre

    A buffalo, lord of the plain,
    With massive neck and mighty mane,
    While from his herd he slowly strays,
    He on green herbage calm doth graze,
    And when at last he lifts his eyes
    A savage wolf he soon espies,
    But scarcely deigns to turn his head
    For it inspires him with no dread,
    He knows the wolf is treacherous foe
    But feels he soon could lay him low,
    A moment more and there's a pair
    Whose savage eyes do on him glare,
    But with contempt them both he scorns
    Unworthy of his powerful horns:
    Their numbers soon do multiply
    But the whole pack he doth defy,
    He could bound quickly o'er the plain
    And his own herd could soon regain;
    His foes they now are full a score
    With lolling tongues pant for his gore,
    He hears their teeth all loudly gnash
    So eager his big bones to crash,
    On every side they him infest,
    The north, the south, the east, the west
    Fierce rage doth now gleam from his eye,
    Resolved to conquer or to die,
    Round him they yelp and howl and growl,
    He glares on them with angry scowl,
    They circle closer him around,
    He roars and springs with mighty bound,
    And of his powers gives ample proof,
    Felling them with horn and hoof,
    Though some lay dead upon the plain,
    Yet their attack was not in vain,
    For they have tasted of his blood,
    Resolved it soon shall pour a flood,
    He feels that they have torn his hide,
    And streams gush from each limb and side,
    He rushes on them in despair
    And tosses them full high in air,
    But others rush on him and pull
    Down to the earth that glorious bull;
    On the flesh of this noble beast
    Their bloody jaws they soon do feast,
    Full worthy of a better fate
    Far from his herd and his dear mate,
    Who now do look for him in vain
    His bones do whiten now the plain.

  5. The Supper

    by Walter De la Mare

    A wolf he pricks with eyes of fire
    Across the night's o'ercrusted snows,
    Seeking his prey,
    He pads his way
    Where Jane benighted goes,
    Where Jane benighted goes.

    He curdles the bleak air with ire,
    Ruffling his hoary raiment through,
    And lo! he sees
    Beneath the trees
    Where Jane's light footsteps go,
    Where Jane's light footsteps go.

    No hound peals thus in wicked joy,
    He snaps his muzzle in the snows,
    His five-clawed feet
    Do scamper fleet
    Where Jane's bright lanthorn shows,
    Where Jane's bright lanthorn shows.

    Now his greed's green doth gaze unseen
    On a pure face of wilding rose,
    Her amber eyes
    In fear's surprise
    Watch largely as she goes,
    Watch largely as she goes.

    Salt wells his hunger in his jaws,
    His lust it revels to and fro,
    Yet small beneath
    A soft voice saith,
    "Jane shall in safety go,
    Jane shall in safety go."

    He lurched as if a fiery lash
    Had scourged his hide, and through and through
    His furious eyes
    O'erscanned the skies,
    But nearer dared not go,
    But nearer dared not go.

    He reared like wild Bucephalus,
    His fangs like spears in him uprose,
    Even to the town
    Jane's flitting gown
    He grins on as she goes,
    He grins on as she goes.

    In fierce lament he howls amain,
    He scampers, marvelling in his throes
    What brought him there
    To sup on air,
    While Jane unharmèd goes,
    While Jane unharmèd goes.