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Good morning/afternoon/evening, everyone! I am delighted (and somewhat overawed) to be your host here today. It’s my very first time on this side of the bar but I’ve been dropping in at the dVerse Poets Pub whenever I could over the past 18 months. I’ve learnt so much from your prompts, poetics, poems and ‘pinions (see what I did there? Couldn’t find a fourth ‘p’ though for comments).


From legal website http://www.pmdm.fr

Today is the 1st of April, April Fools Day, which here in France means only one thing: Poisson d’avril. It is celebrated with a cut-out of a fish to be stuck on the unsuspecting victim’s back. And this got me thinking about all the other animals we like to use in our art, stories and poetry. From the very earliest cave paintings, animals have played such an important part in our development (and differentiation) as humans.

Sometimes we perceive animals as eminently positive: symbols of strength or grandeur, compassion or mercy, godliness or spirituality. The lion Aslan in the Narnia stories, the Lamb in the poetry of William Blake, Anubis the god with the head of a jackal in Ancient Egypt guiding the recently dead are a few examples which come to mind.

Quite often, however, the animals represent something more malevolent and threatening. They don’t even need to be hairy spiders, slithering snakes or black cats to fill us with unease. There is a menace there, the sense of the ‘other’, of something far wilder and freer than we could ever be, perhaps.

Surprised by Rousseau. From Wikipedia

Surprised by Rousseau. From Wikipedia

William Blake’s famous poem ‘The Tyger’ is a companion piece to his Lamb poem and in fact expresses that dawning understanding that ‘He who made the Lamb made Thee’. But just listen to that wonderful sense of feline prowling and menace which he achieves through alliteration, repeated interrogation, trochaic tetrameter and imperfect rhyme in the first stanza. The atmosphere of the poem is perfectly captured in the painting by Henri (Le Douanier) Rousseau.


Tyger Tyger, burning bright,

In the forests of the night;

What immortal hand or eye,

Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies.

Burnt the fire of thine eyes?

On what wings dare he aspire?

What the hand, dare seize the fire?


The endless fascination and beauty of animals, which coexist with their ruthlessness and cruelty, are also described in Geoffrey Brock’s poem ‘The Beautiful Animal’, in which the (unnamed) animal is an extended metaphor for the never straightforward path of love:


By the time I recalled that it is also

terrifying, we had gone too far into

the charmed woods to return.

But there are other, more light-hearted aspects to animals. Even great sombre poets like T. S. Eliot succumbed to their charm. In his delightful volume ‘Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats’, he demonstrates perfect understanding of cats just being themselves, with no heavy symbolism at all.

The Rum Tum Tugger is a terrible bore:
When you let him in, then he wants to be out;
He’s always on the wrong side of every door,
And as soon as he’s at home, then he’d like to get about.
He likes to lie in the bureau drawer,
But he makes such a fuss if he can’t get out.
So today I invite you to write a poem inspired by an animal, close to hand or far away. You can be as symbolic as you like, or simply describe the antics of your own pet. After all, the word ‘pet’ is only one letter removed from the word ‘poet’…

If you are new, here is how it works:

  • Write a poem and post it to your website.
  • Click on the Mr. Linky button below and enter your name and direct url or web address to the poem.
  • There you will find others that have joined in—stop in, visit with them, let them know what you liked about their poem.
  • If you use social media to promote yourself, tag it @dversepoets so we can find you and help you promote.
Have fun reading all the entries – I know I will!
Marina Sofia