Those forlorn beasts, usually under the supervision of a team of sullen youths, would plod back and forth all day with their cargo of excited children, while beyond their well-trodden path, we boys played bat and ball and built colossal sandcastles.
Viewed from a modern, adult perspective, such donkey-work seems essentially cruel and unutterably sad.
Tired seaside donkeys: watch them plod,
on khaki sand, from A to B
without enthusiasm, eyes
downcast, heads hung dejectedly,
like defrocked priests without a God,
tormented now by buzzing flies.
We can but pray for beasts like these,
required to labour in the sun
for some man’s profit whilst alive
then later by a knacker’s gun,
dispatched, or perished from disease,
that in safe pasture, they might thrive.