Get off me Hergest, says the Owner, this is my Dessert.
It is an Iced Lolly, I say. You always share your Iced Lolly with the Moral Dog. If you do not share I may become Melancholy.
Always is too Absolute a word, says the Owner. Whether the Iced Lolly is for Sharing depends on the Moral Nature of the Iced Lolly.
An Iced Lolly cannot have a Moral Nature, I say. It is just Water and Strawberries on a Stick.
The Moral Nature of the Iced Lolly comes from its Purpose, says the Owner. Sometimes the Owner has an Iced Lolly for a Treat and shares such Treats with the Moral Dog. Sometimes the Owner has an Iced Lolly as her Meagre and Calorie-Rationed Post Supper Dessert, in which case it may not be Shared. Particularly if the Moral Dog has already had his Supper.
He has had his Supper, I say, and he was Very Appreciative of the Very Moral though Inherently Uninteresting Puppy Duck and Rice which is Specially Formulated for Dogs with a Delicate Digestion, but the Moral Dog did Not Get Dessert and, as a result, has descended into Melancholy.
Nobody descends into Melancholy that Fast, says the Owner.
On the contrary, I say. The poet Keats in his ‘Ode to Melancholy’ remarked on the rapidity with which Melancholy Descends. I believe he said,
‘The melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud.‘
I cannot believe you have Coerced me with Keats, says the Owner. She cuts her Lolly in Half and hands me a Share. There, she says. Although I may Waste Away, she adds.
Do not worry, I say, should there be any sign of Wasting the Moral Dog is More than Happy to share his Puppy Duck and Rice.
That is not the Same, says the Owner.
I am Glad we Agree on That, I say.
The Iced Lolly is splendid and I enjoy the Half I am Allotted enormously. Sadly, however, the Moment of Pleasure is Brief and Melancholy arrives again. I Clear my Throat and Issue a Small Whine.
Get off me, Hergest, says the Owner. This is my Dessert.
It is Half an Iced Lolly, I say. You have agreed in principle that we should share.
I have just shared, said the Owner. It is not My Fault that you have Finished Your Share. I am Making Mine Last.
I gaze at the Lolly. When you offered the Moral Dog a portion there were Two Halves to share, I say. Now there is Only One Half and you are still Enjoying it. It seems to me that you have more than Half of the Happiness and I have More than Half of the Melancholy.
That is because you Wolfed it down, says the Owner.
I think you may find I Dogged it Down, I say. Because I am a Dog, I add. Chosen, I add pointedly, Precisely for my Quality of Dogness.
This is My Half, says the Owner. I did not Choose a Moral Dog so that I could Never Have a Lolly to Myself again. I chose a Moral Dog to be Loyal and Adoring, and to Appreciate those times when I Share my Lolly without Assuming that the word Always is involved.
I do Appreciate those times, I say, and indeed Appreciate this as One of Them. I am merely disputing the definition of Sharing, given the Unequal Distribution of Melancholy. Keats was Very Clear, I add, that Only a Lolly could Resolve such a Mood.
Keats did not write poetry about Lollies, says the Owner.
I beg to differ, I say. Did not Keats go on to say
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veil’d Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
Can burst Joy’s grape against his palate fine;
His soul shalt taste the sadness of her might,
And be among her cloudy trophies hung. Does not that sound like a Lolly to you?
Dammit, says the Owner.
What have you been feeding that Dog? Asks the Man later. He is a Flatulent Disaster.
It is not the Food, says the Owner, it is the Melancholy.
Hergest the Hound
I am a dog of many thoughts.