A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Monday, 24 September 2007

Baa Baa Black Sheep

Feeling I gave sheep a bit of a bad blogpress in yesterday's post, I thought I'd try to redress the balance. But it's difficult. I researched quickly the poetry field. There seem to be very few good poems about sheep.

There's Ted Hughes' blood-and-gutsy description of a stillborn lamb in February 17th from his collection Moortown Diary (1989) and his long poem Sheep from Season Songs (1976).

There's the Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa's book of poems The Keeper of Sheep - but this is more about God, nature and metaphysics.

So I fear sheep are still getting an indifferent coverage in these pages. With one notable exception - William Blake's delightful The Lamb from his Songs of Innocence and Experience (1789-94):

Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?
Gave thee life, and bid thee feed,
By the stream and o'er the mead;
Gave thee clothing of delight,
Softest clothing, woolly, bright;
Gave thee such a tender voice,
Making all the vales rejoice?
Little Lamb, who made thee?
Dost thou know who made thee?

Little Lamb, I'll tell thee,
Little Lamb, I'll tell thee:
He is called by thy name,
For he calls himself a Lamb.
He is meek, and he is mild;
He became a little child.
I a child and thou a lamb,
We are called by his name.
Little Lamb, God bless thee!
Little Lamb, God bless thee!

Final thoughts about sheep. When I walked the Pennine Way in springtime this year I was accompanied throughout by the sight and sound of lambs - which was a continual joy. To watch their protective mothers constantly keeping an eye on them was very touching.

And lastly, let's not forget Black Sheep Ale from the Black Sheep Brewery based at Masham, North Yorkshire - one of the finest of British beers.

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