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Catholic Concern for Animals


Death In the Evening

 He stands alone inside the ring,
Looks around, static, staring,
He does not know what brought him there,
Confused he is, disturbed his stare…

 The beast appears perplexed and lost,
Unaware of the frightful cost
Of being there amidst a crowd
Of spectators, baying, brash and loud.

And then, appear the “peones”
Who begin the taunts, and try to raise
The blood of one bewildered beast,
Who brandish “flags” from west and east..

Of course, the “fight” is far from fair:
The bull is charging at the air,
The taunters having fled the scene
To cower behind a wooden screen..

They emerge, again, to try anew
To coax the hulk, and thus to tew
The beast into a troubled state,
To render it perturbed, irate..

And now, arrive the Picadors,
All vain and smug with iron drawers,
On horseback, they feel safe to lance
A dismayed beast, about him prance..

His head jerks back in sudden pain,
As down his flank appears a train
Of thick dark blood: his strength and life
Seeps from his frame; the cheers are rife..

And then another joust is dealt,
Sinks into flesh, punctures the pelt;
The grotesque horseman claims his “fame”,
But leaves a trail of disgrace and shame…

The beast is suffering, but prompt to defy
The horseman’s retreat, vainglorious, sly..
His anger is stoked, he is fed by his ire
As he seeks to avenge this rapacious vampire…

In come the footmen, absurd and agile,
Brandishing prods, designed wholly to rile:
The beast then begins to hyperventilate,
As his force is reduced at a gushing rate.

And into his withers are sunk the harpoons,
That target his pride, with coloured festoons..
The bull is hurt further, as the unequal spar
Is aimed at an unmerited “moment de gloire”.

The combat is thus now “one-to-one”,
Though not equal, by far, since the spectacle begun…
The dandy is dressed in his “suit of lights”,
Is set to dazzle with the “fight of fights”.

Equipped with cape and sword, he goads
His opponent into choreographic shows
Of “art” and “dance” and ludicrous “skill”,
Making way for an entirely ignoble kill.

The beast will charge at a swishing lair,
To find that his efforts are met only with air…
The conceited matador will shamelessly hew
His rival, though his “glory” depends on the cue:

The moment at which the bull is spent,
When his breathing is fast, exhausted, renitent;
The bull falters, enfeebled; killer deals the blow,
Sinks in his sword, with vile pomp and show…

Rare, at this time, will the beast expire,
With this continued attack, it will only tire
Of torture, prolonged, protracted and slow,
Just feels the smart of each despicable blow.

No; The matador must attempt again and again
To roars of public disgrace and distain;
He has not revealed his “art” enough
To cull the beast, in all its bluff.

No; The bull is now lost, and knows not what to do;
The public is all set to triumphantly “boo”
The Matador into an inglorious defeat,
As the beast it hard pushed to remain on his feet.

Staggers the bull as his strength seeps away,
His assassin still taunts, as he looks for a way
To plunge his cruel blade right into the heart….
Oh, would he were spared further torment and hurt!

At last the vanquished flounders and falls,
Keels over, consumed, which verily appalls,
As I watch his life fade pitifully away,
Astounded at a public so riotous and gay

He dies with a final stab to the head,
And from the Arena is heartrendingly led,
By chains fed to horses that gallop away,
Hauling a beast from his dolorous day…

Oh, Behemoth, mistreated, so murderously pained,
I felt for your plight, felt properly ashamed
That we could partake of a sham so dismal,
That sadness filled me, my distress was full..

Oh, Mammoth of combat, survival, and force,
How wretched I felt, how sad and how coarse:
Tears welled, as I left the joyless domain:
Stay, I could not, to see another one of you slain.

~Elizabeth Todd


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