The Ass

by


The Ass is a more light-hearted poem featured in Lewis's collection, Spirits in Bondage (1919), his first published book.
An illustration for the story The Ass by the author C.S. Lewis
Klearchos Kapoutsis, Santorini's Donkey, 2010
An illustration for the story The Ass by the author C.S. Lewis
Klearchos Kapoutsis, Santorini's Donkey, 2010
An illustration for the story The Ass by the author C.S. Lewis
I woke and rose and slipt away
     To the heathery hills in the morning grey.

     In a field where the dew lay cold and deep
     I met an ass, new-roused from sleep.

     I stroked his nose and I tickled his ears,
     And spoke soft words to quiet his fears.

     His eyes stared into the eyes of me
     And he kissed my hands of his courtesy.

     "O big, brown brother out of the waste,
     How do thistles for breakfast taste?

     "And do you rejoice in the dawn divine
     With a heart that is glad no less than mine?

     "For, brother, the depth of your gentle eyes
     Is strange and mystic as the skies:

     "What are the thoughts that grope behind,
     Down in the mist of a donkey mind?

     "Can it be true, as the wise men tell,
     That you are a mask of God as well,

     "And, as in us, so in you no less
     Speaks the eternal Loveliness,

     "And words of the lips that all things know
     Among the thoughts of a donkey go?

     "However it be, O four-foot brother,
     Fair to-day is the earth, our mother.

     "God send you peace and delight thereof,
     And all green meat of the waste you love,

     "And guard you well from violent men
     Who'd put you back in the shafts again."

     But the ass had far too wise a head
     To answer one of the things I said,

     So he twitched his fair ears up and down
     And turned to nuzzle his shoulder brown.

If you are interested in more about donkeys, check out the fables by Aesop


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