Goat-Song

 

Don't go into the wood at night
For there are foxes there.
Don't go into the wood by day
For there are adders there.
Don't go into the wood at dawn
For then the air is rare.

I did go into the wood at dusk
And saw the spirits there.
Between the path and the elder trees
Between sun and the evening breeze
Between the darkness and the day
I sensed souls of goats who'd passed away. 

Far from the house and the busy road
W
here the eye of man cannot see
They laid the bones of dog and goat
And there was no-one to grieve but me.
The dogs had many fancy names
A life and a pedigree
But the goats just went to pasture new
Wherever that may be. 

How long had they lain there in the wood
When their earthly life was gone
And the turf put back fresh again
To be baked by the summer sun.
Nobody knows that the goats are thereBut grand-dad told me so
And it wasn't as if we humans care
Whether their spirits come and go.
These beasts were part of our household once -
Part of our family -
Now their skin and their bones are used
As food for the elder tree. 

And the dogs and the hares and the rabbits piss
On the grass that forms their bed:
Will creation be so insensitive
When the rest of us are dead? 

I shall come out of the wood tonight
For we have food for tea.
I'll leave the goats to their evening-watch
For we have meat for tea.
I'll leave the goats to God's kind care
For we have lamb for tea. 

When I return in a year or so
To walk through this wood and grass
Will I give a thought for the goats? Oh no,
I shall ignore them as I pass. 

For the goats are dead
Dead, dead and dead
And we have lamb for tea.

   
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