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The First Animal Rights Poem?

Posted by at 12:09 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


The First Animal Rights Poem? by Guest Blogger

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Picture this: It’s 1773 and the young poet Anna Barbauld is working as an assistant in the laboratory of vivisector Joseph Priestley. In order to study breathing, Priestley tormented live mice, and he did it without giving them any anesthetic (as vivisectors today still do in many cases).

One night, Priestley left his next victim-a mouse who would be put into a “breathing tank” (read: “suffocation tank”) that would be pumped empty of oxygen-in a cage on his desk. Anna was so moved by the sight of this doomed animal that she penned a poem from the mouse’s point of view, folded up the paper, and stuck it between the bars of the cage for Priestley to find in the morning. No one knows if it moved him at all.

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

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

The mouse’s plea for life and liberty is so touching that actor Anne Bobby actually broke down while reading the poem on the air for NPR. Luckily for the rhyming couplet-challenged, you don’t have to be Shakespeare to make a powerful case for animal rights. You can do it in a letter to the editor, a letter to your legislators, or even in 140 characters or less.

This post by Lindsay Pollard-Post  was originally published on The PETA Files.

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3 Comments

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    nature scenes says...

    June 24th, 2010, 1:56 am

    Good work ! Keep us posting, you are very good writer.

    Shari says...

    June 25th, 2010, 2:23 pm

    Here is a little poem I just made up:
    Why do I cry
    when I can fight..
    Why do a complain
    when I can speak up..
    When will the killiing stop
    when we choose to see the suffering…
    Animal cruelty will end when
    when we all get into action
    Mankind isn’t so kind
    but with our love we will be the change we seek.

    O.k. not the best but this is how I feel at this monent.. :) Shari

    Shari says...

    June 25th, 2010, 2:27 pm

    opps.. i mean to type:Why do “I “complain
    not why do “a” complain.
    and I put in two whens when one was enought.
    as you can tell I would never become a writer! LOL Shari

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