S ( / United States)

Androcles And The Lion

(A Poem written for my two daughters)

Listen to me, my children
Of this story from faraway Rome
When a poor slave named Androcles
Fled from his master’s home

For his master was so cruel
With every earthly vice
One who was never mellowed
Hearing his slaves’ cries

No time he gave to rest
Or proper food to eat
And every chance he got
He never failed to beat

Poor Androcles had enough
He just couldn’t take any more
He waited for a new moon night
And ran out the kitchen door

He ran into the forest
Across the grounds and moor
Taking the beaten path
To leave behind no spoor

A night and day he spent
High up in a tall oak tree
As the soldiers searched and left
He knew he was finally free

He climbed down the tree and ran
And quickly gained some ground
For he had to reach a place
Where he never would be found

He reached a mountain river
Where he stopped to eat and drink
Of his long and painful past
He paused a while to think

And in that peaceful forest spot
Thinking, he was all alone
He lay down for some sleep
When he thought he heard a groan

His tired body and mind
Gave no chance for further thought
Poor Androcles didn’t know
The dangers the jungle was fraught

He woke up with a fright
On the cold forest floor
For echoing across the vales
He heard a jungle king’s roar

He was up on his feet in a trice
And looked around for a shelter
Or to climb up a tree top
Where his chances, he knew were better

But he turned around to see
A few feet away the King
Measuring his prey before him
The beast was ready to spring

Drenched with sweat from fright
He turned around to flee
Sensing those claws around him
He stopped and turned to see

The lion had hardly moved
And when a ginger step he took
His right paw was swollen, he saw
He paused to take another look

With compassion in his mind
But body trembling with fear
Small steps he took, a few
To bring him to the animal, near

He put an arm around him
And gently patted his mane
As the lion let out a groan
He could visibly sense the pain

But the humane side of him
Took over, he was now bold
He pulled the beast to the ground
And in pain, the animal rolled

Pierced into the lion’s paw
Was a splinter sharp and long
With a prayer on his lips and a tug
He pulled out the offending prong

The lion let out a roar
That brought the forest down
In its magnificence, the sound
Did rest of the jungle drown

Androcles went into the jungle
And plucked many a medicinal leaf
And with leather from his tunic
He tied the paw in a sheaf

The lion lifted his left paw
In a show of affection insane
Dragged Androcles to himself
And held him close to his mane

He gave his saviour a long lick
As Androcles shook with fear
He looked up to the beast
In its eyes a thankful tear

With a commanding grunt, the beast
To his cave his saviour led
With that day’s kill, a deer
Ensured his guest well fed

Within a week or so, the King
Could take a painless stride
With a last glance at his friend
He left to join his pride.

He enjoyed the freedom got
Though he missed his friend, the lion
Eating wild plants and berries
Months flew by soon, nine

Good times never last long
For that is God’s strange way
For Androcles, bad times
Came calling soon one day

Swimming in the mountain stream
Horses he heard so near
Climbed on the bank to face
Soldiers with poisoned spear

He tried to fight them all
With all courage he could muster
Outnumbered he was and soon
Thrown before his master

Pulled by the hair and dragged
He was before the emperor
Beaten and chained he stood
Weeping, before Caesar

But laws of the land those days
Were only for the name
The slaves who ran from home
Were for their master, fair game

The emperor sentenced him to death
As the nobles wanted their thrill
He was to be thrown in the arena
Where a hungry lion waited for his kill

Proclaimed across all lands
For the public, it was fun
They just wanted a kill
See the death of someone

Life had no value
If you were born a slave
Alive it was the meek
Death it was for the brave

The coliseum filled each seat
As the crowd bayed for blood
The slave in irons and chains
Wished he hadn’t fled

They set the slave then free
Gave in his hand a spear
Shaken and sweating there stood
Androcles, trembling with fear

He knew his time had come
There was no time for prayers
Death of a slave brings luck
So says the soothsayers

For the past week, the lion
Not a morsel was fed
So when the gates were opened
Quickly to its victim it sped.

The crowds roar increased
Equites and Senatores alike
They egged the beast to pounce
And quickly finish the strike

Androcles stood there frozen
Seeing the advancing beast
He fell on the floor senseless
Ready for the animal to feast.

The animal lifted its paw
And brought out its deadly claws
And bent down to crush his victim
In its mighty powerful jaws

Androcles lay unmoved
As the crowd held its breath
Retracting his claws, the King
Circled his prey in stealth

In an act that left the crowd
And the emperor in a daze
The lion bent down to lick
His prey gently in the face

He continued this act of love
And let out an affectionate grunt
Till Androcles woke up and sat
As the crowd sat totally stunned

The slave hugged his friend
Together they ran around
As met two friends after long
Their joy had known no bounds

“Stop”, screamed the Emperor
'Bring the prisoner to me”
As Androcles walked up the steps
On his face was obvious glee

“Whatever happened out there
Was certainly out of the blue
Was that an act of God
Or black magic that you knew”

Androcles started from the start
His story he then laid bare
Of how in the forest he met
The lion he had given care

Moved by the story was Caesar
Heard it in full in silence
Compared to the beast, he thought
Weren’t they all plain tyrants

He picked up the horn and barked
As the royal drums started rolling
“What we have seen here today
Is something beyond believing

So hear ye all my countrymen”
As the crowd went into silence
“From here on in this theatre
We shall shun all violence

The games that we shall play
Will be between men
Our animals are to be loved
Our slaves are also human

As for this magnificent beast
And this brave young slave
From today they are free
Enjoy the freedom you crave”

Androcles ran down the steps
With joy in every stride
Proudly he left the theatre
With his friend by his side

A stadium stood up as one
And clapped them along the way
The story of the slave and the lion
Is here for ever to stay.

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Rudyard Kipling

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Comments (25)

apples and oranges, are a perfect fruit, in a picnic to share especially with your true love, to show you really care! beautiful poem shared great 10++++++++++
Verily, a melodious poem
It is a nice poem. A healthy poem for our healthy body system.
Eat them both and.be a tiger. Well done my friend
what a poem, it's amazing Rachel...... Both are sweet with juices in One by squeezing and other to bite. If one fulfills the other brings sunshine. apple and orange a royal combine..........................
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