The Placid Pug, and Other Rhymes



By (The Belgian Hare) Lord Alfred Douglas

Author of "Tails with a twist" and "The Duke of Berwick"

Illustrated by P. P.


















THE placid Pug that paces in the Park,

Harnessed in silk and led by leathern lead,

Lives his dull life, and recks not of the Shark

In distant waters. Lapped in sloth and greed,

He fails in strenuous life to make a mark,

The placid Pug that paces in the park.

Round the slow circle of his nights and days

His life revolves in calm monotony.

Not unsusceptible to casual praise,

And mildly moved by the approach of "tea,"

No forked and jagged lightning leaps and plays

Round the slow circle of his nights and days.

He scarcely turns his round protuberant eyes,

To mark the mood of animals or men.

His joy is limited to mild surmise

When a new biscuit swims into his ken.

And when athwart his gaze a Rabbit flies,

He scarcely turns his round protuberant eyes.

And all the while the Shark in Southern seas



Pursues the paths of his pulsating quest,

Though the thermometer at fierce degrees

Might well admonish him to take a rest,

The Pug at home snores in ignoble ease.

(And all the while the Shark in Southern seas!)

If Pugs like Sharks were brought up in the sea

And forced to swim long miles to find their food,

Tutored to front the Hake's hostility,

And beard the Lobster in his dangerous mood,

Would not their lives more sane, more useful be,

If Pugs like Sharks were brought up in the sea?

The placid Pug still paces in the park,

Untouched by thoughts of all that might have been.

Undreaming that he might have "steered his bark"

Through many a stirring sight and stormy scene.

But being born a Pug and not a Shark

The placid Pug still paces in the park.


BISHOPS and others who inhabit

The mansions of the blest on earth,



Grieved by decline of infant birth,

Have drawn attention to the rabbit.

Not by design these good men work

To raise that beast to heights contested,

But by comparison, suggested,

With those who procreation shirk.

For if a nation's moral status

Be measured by prolific habit,

Between man and the meanest rabbit

There is an evident hiatus.

Each year, by lowest computations,

Six times the rabbit rears her young,

And frequent marriages among

The very closest blood relations

In very tender years ensure

A constant stream of "little strangers,"

Who, quickly grown to gallant rangers,

See that their families endure.

Not theirs to shirk paternal cares,

Moved by considerations sordid,

A child can always "be afforded";

The same applies to Belgian hares.

These noble brutes, pure Duty's pendants,

May live to see their blood vermilion

Coursing through something like a billion

Wholly legitimate descendants.

Knowledge's path is hard and stony,

And some may read who unaware are

That rabbit brown and Belgian hare are

Both members of the genus Coney.

The common hare, who lives in fields

And never goes into a hole,

(In this inferior to the mole)

In all things to the Belgian yields.

He will, immoral brute, decline

To multiply domestic "pledges,"

The family he rears in hedges

Is often limited to nine.

Such shocking want of savoir faire,

(Surely a symptom of insanity)

Might goad a Bishop to profanity

Were it not for the Belgian hare.


THE Lion laps the limpid lake,

The Pard refuses wine,

The sinuous Lizard and the Snake,

The petulant Porcupine,

Agree in this, their thirst to quench

Only with Nature's natural "drench."

In vain with beer you tempt the Deer,

Or lure the Marmozet;

The early morning Chanticleer,

The painted Parroquet,

Alike, on claret and champagne

Gaze with unfaltering disdain.

No ale or spirit tempts the Ferret,

No juice of grape the Toad.



In vain towards the "Harp and Merit"

The patient Ox you goad;

Not his in rapture to extol

The praises of the flowing bowl.

The silent Spider laughs at cider,

The Horse despises port;

The Crocodile (whose mouth is wider

Than any other sort)

Prefers the waters of the Nile

To any of a stronger style.

The Rabbit knows no "private bar,"

The Pelican will wander

Through arid plains of Kandahar,

Nor ever pause to ponder

Whether in that infernal clime

The clocks converge to "closing time."

True "bona-fide traveller"

Urging no sophist plea,

How terrible must seem to her

Man's inebriety;

She who in thirsty moments places

Her simple trust in green oases.

With what calm scorn the Unicorn,

In his remote retreat,

Must contemplate the fervour born

Of old "Château Lafitte."

Conceive the feelings of the Sphinx

Confronted with Columbian drinks!

And oh! if all this solemn truth

Were dinned into its mind

From earliest years, might not our youth

Regenerate mankind,

Aspire to climb the Heights, and dare

To emulate the Belgian hare?


THE staunch and strenuous Serpent spends his time

In the safe field of serpentine pursuits,

Rightly considering it a social crime

To parody the ways of other brutes.

Scorning the fraud of alien aspirations,

The snobbishness that apes another class,

Proud, and yet conscious of his limitations,

He bites the dust and grovels in the grass.

The moral food that keeps him down is Force,

Force to confine his fancies to their beds.



Makes him the laughing-stock of quadrupeds.

No weak attempt to carol like the Lark,

Fore-doomed to failure and to ridicule,

Troubles his life; he does not wish to bark,

Has no desire to amble like a Mule.

Having no legs he does not try to walk,

But keeps contentedly his native crawl;

Having no voice he does not strive to talk,

Much less to bellow or to caterwaul.

Mark the inevitably reached result:

To balance the advantages he missed,

In three departments he may yet exult

To be the only perfect specialist.

Three arts are his: to writhe, to hiss, to creep.

The Toad's tenacity, the Wombat's wiles,

Or the keen cunning of the crafty Sheep

(And all are artists in their various styles),

Would vainly challenge them. He reigns supreme

In these the fields of his activity,

And reigning so defies the envious Bream,

Who sneers and shrugs and sniggers in the sea.

Type of the wise, who roar but never foam

(If they can help it) at the mouth, except

When night and morn they brush their teeth at home

With pallid powder for that purpose kept.


SINCE Dr. Watts in frenzy fine

Extolled the "busy Bee,"

The patience of the Porcupine,

The Newt's fidelity,

The calm contentment of the Pike,

Have stirred our hearts and brain alike.

Lives there a man so lost, so low,

That he has never found

Some lesson in the Buffalo,

Some precept in the Hound?

Few who have won Victoria's cross

Owe nothing to the Albatross.

These pleasant thoughts must turn our minds,

In meditation quiet,

Towards the moral law that binds

The principles of diet.

Since 'tis a maxim none disputes,

That we should imitate the brutes.

As has been shown in former verse,

The animal creation

Does not in its own nature nurse

Inebriate inclination;

Nor is it formed by Heaven to pant

For alcoholic stimulant.

That being so, our path is plain,

We must eschew all drinks;

If we are anxious to attain

To the celestial brinks,

The meanest Hippopotamus

Will make our duty clear to us.

But in the search for Natural guides

To moral food-restrictions,

We are assaulted on all sides

By patent contradictions.

Thus, while the Lion lives on meat,

The Pheasant is content with wheat.

Who then, when beasts do not agree,

Shall venture to decide?



Some will adopt the Chimpanzee



And some the Fox as guide,

Others the Bear or Antelope,

Nature allows the fullest scope.


WHO that has sailed upon the ocean's face,

Or walked beside the sea along the sand,

Has not felt envy for the piscine race,

Comparing its domain, where noise is banned,

To the infernal racket that takes place

On land?

While up above the billows rage and roar

And make a most unnecessary noise,

And shallow Shrimps, who live too near the shore,

Are harassed by the shouts of girls and boys,

Who find the beach a place convenient for

Their toys,

The happy members of the Fishy clan

Pursue in peace their various pursuits,

All undisturbed by bell of muffin-man,

Or bellow of purveyor of fresh fruits,

Who at each "Pub" his voice republican


The harmless Herring gambols with his young,

And heeds but hears not their impulsive play.

(His heart is with their mother who was flung,

Kippered to feed a clerk's bank-holiday,

Into the salting-tub and passed unsung


Now, had this Herring been of human breed,

And lived in London or some other town,

Fate would have made him hear as well as heed

His offspring as it gambolled up and down,



Making a noise that's very hard indeed

To drown.

Moreover, organ-grinders would have ground,

And yowls from both "employed" and "unemployed";

Hoarse howls from those who had "salvation" found,

And bawls from those whose faith had been destroyed,

Would have combined to keep his sense of sound


Who would not therefore rather be a Whale,

A Hake, a Haddock, or a Mackerel,

Than linger in this sad uncertain vale

(Here where men sit and hear each other yell)?

Better to go, if other places fail,

To ———


THE dreadful Dragon and the Unicorn,

Accustomed to be treated with respect,

And much annoyed by present-day neglect,

Have sometimes wished they never had been born,

At least in any world so "unselect."

Their non-existence being now a "fact"

Accepted by mankind's majority,

They naturally feel quite "up a tree."

They don't know what to do to counteract

These damned delusions of Democracy.

Although they often walk out in the sun,

And show themselves in all important streets,

Although in fact they have their "regular beats,"

They're hardly ever seen by any one,

And get no notice in the "daily sheets."

Although as signs they hang on various inns,

They find themselves irrevocably "out."



In vain they prance and caracole about,

Even the tribute of "derisive grins"

Is now denied them in their final rout.

Mere non-belief in his existence may

Seem, to one emptying a festive flagon

In the interior of the "Wasp and Wagon,"

A very trifling matter any way.

But it is most annoying to the Dragon.

The subject may appear beneath contempt

To one who holds the world's applause in scorn,

Preferring in a cloister to adorn

"Illumined scrolls in heavenly colours dreamt,"

But it is galling to the Unicorn.


SEEN in the mirror of the poet's dream,

(Exclusively reserved for the "elect"),

Each animal supplies us with a theme

For wondering-admiration and respect.

Thus, to those men who truly modest seem


The Hare.

The Bee performs all sorts of useful things

When she is gathering honey for the hive,

She fertilises flowers and plants, and brings

Food to keep necessary Drones alive.

Unless annoyed she very seldom stings,

Dear me!

The Bee.

The Dove extols and cherishes his mate,

And coos and woos all through the summer day.

H is life is blamelessly immaculate,

And though his wings enable him to stray,

He seldom does. He never comes home late.

By Jove!

The Dove.

The Crow displays a splendid scorn of pelf,

Backed by invulnerable self-restraint.

All specious arts he lays upon the shelf,

And, being free from every primal taint,

He keeps himself entirely to himself.




The Crow!

The Stork compels our admiration, he

Will stand for several hours in the same place

And on one leg, instead of two (or three),

Thus practising economy of space.

A grand example of stability!

Oh Lork!

The Stork.

The self-repressive Cod, on his own beat,

Swims in elaborately-studied curves.

He keeps below, not wishing to compete

With surface-swimming fishes, though his nerves

Are sometimes tried by lack of air, and heat.

Good God!

The Cod.


THE Crab walks sideways, not because his build

Precludes the possibility of walking straight,

And not (as some have thought) that he is filled

With strange and lawless theories on gait;

Still less that he is foolishly self-willed

And prone to show off or exaggerate.

No serious student of his life and ways

Will venture to impugn his common sense;

His tact and moderation win high praise

Even from those whose faculties are dense

And blind to the false issues which they raise

When they accuse him of malevolence.

"But, ah!" these shallow hide-bound pedants cry,

"If to the Crab all virtues you concede,

If his intentions are not evil, why

This sidelong walk,



These flanking steps that lead

To no advancement of Humanity,

No exaltation of the mortal breed?

"Why not go forward as the Sword-fish goes?

Or move straight backward, like the jibbing Horse

Why this absurd and pitiable pose

That takes delight in any devious course?

Why this dislike to 'following the nose'

Which all the best authorities endorse?"

Insensate fools. Swims not the Cod in curves?

Does not the running Roebuck leap and bound

If in his flight the Capercailzie swerves,

Shall he be mocked by every Basset-hound

Who, having neither feathers, wings, nor nerves,

Has not the pluck to rise up from the ground?

Peace, peace, the Crab adopts a side-long walk,

For reasons still impossible to see.

And if his pride permitted him to talk

To any one who did not do as he,

His instinct would be, probably, to balk

The hopes of vulgar curiosity.

And while the schoolmen argue and discuss,

And fill the air with "whats," and "whens," and "whys,"

And demonstrate as: thus, and thus, and thus,

The crab will pulverise their theories,

And put an end to all this foolish fuss

By walking sideways into Paradise.


IN the abysses of the ocean deeps,

Fathoms removed from men and mortal strife,



The unexpectant Oyster smiles and sleeps

Through the calm cycle of his peaceful life.

What though above his head the steamboat plies,

And close at hand he hears the fume and fuss

Of the impetuous Halibut that flies

The mad embraces of the Octopus.

Though the fierce tails of Whales like flails descend

Upon the water lashed to furious foam,

And the Sea-serpents writhe and twist and bend

All round the purlieus of his ocean home,

He still preserves his philosophic calm,

His high detachment from material things,

And lays to his untroubled soul the balm

Of that contentment oft denied to kings.

Not far off, on the shore, men fume and fret,

And prowl and howl and postulate and preach,

The Baby bellows in the bassinet,

And the Salvation Army on the beach.

The unsuccessful "Artist" of the "Halls"

Has blacked his face with cork, and now he sings

Of moons and coons and comic funerals



And the enchantment that the cake-walk brings.

And on the pier the "milingtary band"

Poisons the air with beastly brazen sound,

While cockney couples wander hand in hand,



And dismal tourists tour,



And bounders bound.

And donkey-boys allure to donkey rides

The sitters on the sand beside the sea,

And touts sell "guides" to all the town provides,

From theatres to "painless dentistry."

To all this noise the Oyster lends no ear,

Partly because he has no ear to lend,

Partly because he hates to interfere,

Chiefly because these rhymes must have an end.