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Pike, three inches long, perfect
Pike in all parts, green tigering the gold.
Killers from the egg: the malevolent aged grin.
They dance on the surface among the flies.
Or move, stunned by their own grandeur,
Over a bed of emerald, silhouette
Of submarine delicacy and horror.
A hundred feet long in their world.
In ponds, under the heat-struck lily pads –
Gloom of their stillness:
Logged on last year’s black leaves, watching upwards.
Or hung in an amber cavern of weeds
The jaws’ hooked clamp and fangs
Not to be changed at this date;
A life subdued to its instrument;
The gills kneading quietly, and the pectorals.
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Ted Hughes was born on this day in 1930.
Image by Benjamin Horn
Ted Hughes is Elvis Presley
I didn’t die
that hot August night.
I faked it,
stuffed a barrage balloon
into a jump suit.
Left it slumped
on the bathroom floor.
Hitched a ride on a rig
rolling to New York. Climbed
into the rig, the driver said
‘Yeah, The Big Bopper. I faked it,
never died in that ‘plane crash.
Keep it under your lid.’
I tapped his hat with my porky fingers.
He nodded. We shared a big secret.
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Elvis Presley died on this day in 1977.
The Badger by John Clare
When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
Go out and track the badger to his den,
And put a sack within the hole, and lie
Till the old grunting badger passes bye.
He comes and hears – they let the strongest loose.
The old fox hears the noise and drops the goose.
The poacher shoots and hurries from the cry,
And the old hare half wounded buzzes bye.
They get a forked stick to bear him down
And clap the dogs and take him to the town,
And bait him all the day with many dogs,
And laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs.
He runs along and bites at all he meets:
They shout and hollo down the noisy streets.
He turns about to face the loud uproar
And drives the rebels to their very door.
The frequent stone is hurled where’er they go;
When badgers fight, then everyone’s a foe.
The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray;
The badger turns and drives them all away.
Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,
He fights with dogs for bones and beats them all.
The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,
Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.
The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,
The badger grins and never leaves his hold.
He drives the crowd and follows at their heels
And bites them through – the drunkard swears and reels.
The frighted women take the boys away,
The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.
He tries to reach the woods, and awkward race,
But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chace.
He turns agen and drives the noisy crowd
And beats the many dogs in noises loud.
He drives away and beats them every one,
And then they loose them all and set them on.
He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,
Then starts and grins and drives the crowd agen;
Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
And leaves his hold and cackles, groans, and dies.
“Hope” is a thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
‘Summer with Monica’ by Roger McGough. 50th anniversary edition illustrated by Chris Riddell.
Available from Surrey Libraries. (A small request charge may apply).
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