The Beggar at Canterbury Gate


By Mack Hall

Word Count:

Rating: G (suitable for all audiences)

Summary: A dog watches his master begging.

Image Credit: Canterbury Gate

The beggar sits at Canterbury Gate*,

Thin, pale, unshaven, sad.  His little dog

Sits patiently as a Benedictine

At Vespers, pondering eternity.

Not that rat terriers are permitted

To make solemn vows. Still, the pup appears

To take his own vocation seriously,

As so few humans do. For, after all,

Dogs demonstrate for us the duties of

Poverty, stability, obedience,

In choir, perhaps; among the garbage, yes,

So that in seeing them, we too might live aright.

The good dog’s human plays his tin whistle

Beneath usurper Henry’s1 offering-arch,

For Kings, as beggars do, must drag their sins

And lay them before the Altar of God:

The beggar drinks and drugs and smokes, and so

His penance is to sit and suffer shame;

The King’s foul murders stain his honorable soul,

His penance is a stone-carved infamous name;

Our beggar, then, is a happier man,

Begging for bread at Canterbury Gate;

Tho’ stones are scripted not with his poor fame,

His little dog will plead his cause to God.

*Henry VII, who built the Cathedral Gate in 1517, long after the time of Henry II and St. Thomas Becket



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