Epitaph for the Badger
A snarling dark shape in the depths of night,
Blundered into whilst on unknowing paths,
Reduces careless ignorance to fright.
While in others produces mirthless laughs;
For sure, there are few to be had today,
Farmers and ministers have seen to that.
While hunts sabs and patrols, try as they may,
Cannot hope to mangle every cruel trap.
What it is to be feared, yet have no voice:
Found guilty by the company we keep.
It could never have been a badger’s choice
To mix with cows or dung or corn or sheep.
In came a microscopic bacillus,
Named long ago after some wretched cow,
Causing a vast nationwide tumulus.
So the killing goes on from then till now.
As the badger noses his woodland track,
And cubs dance among the bluebells in play,
A mercenary with gun on his back
Approaches – sights set on a hapless prey.
Despite frenzied digging, claws long and torn,
There is no escape from the senseless cage.
So the badger lapses, senseless, forlorn,
Awaiting the man blind with misplaced rage.
The end comes quick enough, in drifts of mud.
Proclaiming man’s absurd insanity.
The inhuman prison, base mired in blood.
No earthly help to cure bovine TB.
Across all the land, thousands of cattle,
Who – for all their history – stamp and fret
With no thought of misdirected battle
Leave trails of death we will never forget.
And the cows! They go from a stinking byre,
Through crush and syringe to Positive test.
And end their days on a funeral pyre.
Can there be anyone left not depressed?
I’ve been lost and bereft for forty years,
By abrogation of a science law.
And have seen around me good fellows’ tears.
Nonplussed, unbelieving, in fraught furore.
Cool appraisal of science data show,
However black and white (and neat) it feels,
The badger’s not the enemy they know;
But cows, which spread the bug from field to fields.
Yet on and on it goes, running amok.
How or when it will end, no-one can say.
But when they’ve killed the last remaining Brock,
They’ll find another neat scapegoated prey.
And as though all this wasn’t bad enough,
There, see the man touting pistol or gun,
Who thinks it’s a mark of being ‘dead tough’:
Sporting a quarry shot simply for fun.
Official massacre carries no hope.
A steam-hammer abused will crack no nut;
Blunderbusses trained through a microscope
Can’t stem a bacterial tide like Cnut.
A host called ‘spill-over’ is Brock’s death-knell -
Caught up in the saga of bTB -
Looks on from woodland setts where it would dwell:
A hapless bystander in history.
Politicians – government ministers –
Self-imagery of their poor selves made,
Think mainly in terms of ballot papers.
And wildlife can make no Jarrow Crusade.
‘Here today, gone tomorrow’, it’s been said,
Civil servants can blithely walk away.
Leaving behind their bloodied trails of dead
Which had no English voice and held no sway.
When they’ve murdered all that the state decrees,
Don’t think it all over, dusted and done.
On moor, or under wooded canopies,
The thugs will still be there with dog and gun.
Sharing between them one medieval
Mindset, lacking all imagination.
Corrupted by peer and older evil.
Bloodlust will thirst for extermination.
And while one arm of the law tries its best
To save from louts a protected icon,
Another in power and much better dressed,
Finds ways of letting the killing go on.
The caged canary which miners cherished,
Warned him of dangerous latent danger
Deep underground where fatal gasses lurked.
The badger is another messenger.
If agricultural leaders had more
Good sense and far-sighted philosophy
A shambling mustelid, its own sight poor,
Could play the role taught us by history.
They say that those who don’t learn from the past
Will go on repeating old myths and saws
Einstein went further and said that at last
Only fools repeat what has failed before.
There is none so blind as they that will not
Open their minds to an aged concept
Clinging to a crutch, they believe:
Give me a gun and an easy target.
© R.M. Meyer
Devon, Sept-Oct 2018