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Animal Ethics Poems

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“Caring for Animals,” Jon Silkin (England), printed in This Same Sky, p. 112

“The Pit Ponies,” Leslie Norris (Wales), printed in This Same Sky, p. 119

“Napoleon,” Miroslav Holub (Czechoslovakia), translated by Kaca Polackova, printed in This Same Sky, p. 151

In this poem, none of the children in a classroom know who Napoleon Bonaparte is. A teacher asks questions about the historical figure, but the refrain comes back, “Nobody knows.” Since the children have trouble connecting to him, they have trouble genuinely caring about this individual who is an abstraction to them. But then one child tells a story about a dog named Napoleon, who he knew, and who was beaten and died of starvation. This Napoleon is someone the children know something about now, and “now all the children feel sorry/for Napoleon.” Once they make a personal connection to an individual, they care for him…

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