Their soft fur – moon white, black as a dark
night, or the grizzled grey of flecked slate –
was not made for stillness or the puppet
motion of stolen sleekness draped over
human bones. Do not be surprised if
the weight of absent flesh rests heavily
on the wearer’s shoulders or the skin
beneath starts to stink of rotten meat.
Death lingers in the shadowed fur.
Wild lives cannot be worn with grace
by those with no right to their beauty.
These mist covered mountains of the highlands,
‘twas here that I once freely wandered upon natures pasture grounds,
Now I lie shrouded in the mournful fog of the lowlands,
‘twas here that I was met by a pack of bone breaking hounds.
The fresh dew upon the harvest of autumn’s final flowering,
‘twas here that I chewed the grass of sweet nature’s offering,
Now I grow cold upon the ground where I was stalked by dark doom,
‘twas here that I left life’s rocky way under a hunter’s moon.
The air of the early morn moor with the sky above my dome,
‘twas here that I ran and with joy loved and royally roamed,
Now my legs will nevermore click or clack over my domain fenced with tree gates,
‘twas here that I wooed and won my shy majestic mate.
She, my queen of the green woodlands, she was my wife and my empire,
‘twas here that we romanced in the fading summer’s fire,
Our charming child, my princess of these grassy hills now cloaked in shade,
‘twas here that she saw her father the monarch in death finally fade.
In the chorus of the dancing dawn awakening upon the horizon’s golden rhyme,
‘twas here that I sang the tune that will drum till the end of nature’s time,
They will come with stakes and wood and cross and bow me to the beams,
‘twas here where they hacked and tore off my enchanted crown of weeping dreams.
The scent of the freshly mown grass mingles with the green pine,
‘twas here that I drank the perfume and nectar of the divine,
My eyes glaze, my breathing falters, my clay chills, my soul no more sings,
‘twas here that I finally returned to the hands of my Beloved, the eternal King.
“…I shall now graze upon the sacred acres of my Creator,
I shall frolic and run free in the tender fields of endless splendour…”
The largest animal in Great Britain, a red stag named Emperor who stood over 9ft tall, was shot dead by a trophy hunter. The antlers of the majestic deer are highly prized, and after pictures of the stag appeared in the national press, the animal was tracked and killed in Exmoor, Devon.
Silence, then the throb of pulse on stone: stifled pangs vibrate through bars. Pacing paws go round and round: echoes come but no one stirs. Jet and amber flying lizards and their wings above the cell: how they love their music-making, stringing notes from wall to wall. Midnight shadows chase the moon, brand a stave with stripes of ink. Muffled drum-beats sound in vain: quavers pelt a dappled flank. Stars retreat while ticking rhythms rise from song sheets for the dawn. Lizards fill their scales with freedom while a tiger hunkers down.