Heidi StephensonAnimal Rights Poetry By Heidi Stephenson From All-Creatures.org


Found fragments reassembled in Nature's pressing cause

“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.” (Troilus and Cressida)

He was brow-bound with the oak.1
His delights were dolphin-like.2
He was a thing of blood.1

I did hear him groan,3
the sobbing deer:4
a poor sequester’d stag,
that from the hunter’s aim
had ta’en a hurt,
and did come to languish.4

He heav’d forth such groans
that their discharge
did stretch his leathern coat
almost to bursting,
and the big round tears
cours’d one another
down his innocent nose
in piteous chase.4

“In what have I offended you?
What cause hath my behaviour
given to your displeasure,
that thus you should proceed?5
Have I not strove to love?5
…You would not do me violence?”6

To commit such slaughter7
as makes the angels weep!8

O cursed be the hand
that made these holes,9
that have gored
the gentle bosom of peace
with pillage and robbery,
that have born life away;10
cursed the blood
that let this blood from hence,
cursed the heart
that had the heart to do it!9

Whoever shoots at him,
I set him there!11
To weep there.12

Do not touch!11

Upon a raw and gusty day3
a wretched creature
must bend his body!3

Our Britain’s harts die flying!7

We were as twinned lambs
that did frisk i’th’sun,
and bleat the one at th’other.13

We knew not the doctrine of ill-doing,
nor dreamed that any did.13

Do all men kill the things they do not love?14

This is no answer,
thou unfeeling man,
to excuse the current of thy cruelty.14

How shalt thou hope for mercy,
rend’ring none?14
That nothing do
but meditate on blood!15

Blow, blow, thou winter wind,
thou art not so unkind
as man’s ingratitude.16

Full many a glorious morning have I seen17
with golden face the meadows green,17
when the sweet wind did gently
kiss the trees.18

Now o’er the one half-world
Nature seems dead.19

Love and constancy is dead!20

The fold stands empty
in the drowned field
…filled up with mud.21

In the deep bosom
of the ocean buried.22

Their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are!23

Daily swallowed
by men’s eyes…
heard, not regarded…
being with his presence
glutted, gorged!24

Still cupboarding the viand.25

Roasted crabs hiss in the bowl.26

Your most grave belly!25

Thou feed on Death,
(that feeds on men.)27

All those legs and arms
and heads chopped off
…shall join together
at the latter day,
and cry all,
‘We died at such a place.’28

Blood is their argument!28

This piece of ruthless butchery;29
lolling the tongue with slaught’ring!6

O, the most piteous cries of the poor souls!30

Th’unkindest beast more kinder
than mankind!31

Their heavy burdens…
the sad-eyed ‘justice’!32

The laws you curb and whip!33

Th’oppressors wrong,
the law’s delay,
the insolence of office,
and the spurns!34

Profound conceit,
as who should say:
‘I am Sir Oracle,
and when I ope my lips,
let no dog bark!’35

Are you not moved,
when all the sway of earth
shakes like a thing infirm?36

The seasons alter:
hoary-headed frosts fall
in the fresh lap
of the crimson rose…
The spring, the summer,
the chiding autumn, angry winter
change their wonted liveries,
and the mazed world
by their increase now,
knows not which is which!21

The even mead –
that erst brought sweetly forth
the freckled cowslip,
burnet and green clover –
rank. Nothing teems…
losing both beauty and utility.15

Devouring pestilence hangs in our air.37

I have seen th’ambitious ocean swell and rage;36
a tempest dropping fire!36

Let not men say
‘These are their reasons,’
‘they are natural,’
for I believe they are portentous things
unto the climate
that they point upon!36

I have of late
…lost all my mirth.38

Nature is a paradise,39
this breathing world! 22

Are not these woods
more free from peril
than the envious court?4

The evil that men do lives after them.

We are the makers of manners!
Repair those violent harms!

This is the flower, that smiles on everyone!

We are mere usurpers, tyrants
and what’s worse,
to fright the animals
and to kill them up
in their assign’d and native
dwelling place!4

The wretched animals,4
rising and cawing at the gun’s report,
sever themselves and madly sweep the sky!40

A tortoise hung,
an alligator stuffed,
and other skins
of ill-shaped fishes…bladders,
whose sale is present death.41

We make trifles of terrors
when we should submit ourselves!42

An egg is full of meat!43
The tender horns of cockled snails!44
There’s a special providence
in the fall of a sparrow.45
For beauty lives with kindness.46

On your imaginary forces work!
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder!47

Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts.47
The salt flood…the turbulent surge shall cover!48

“Good sir, do not assist the storm.”49

I am the cygnet
to this pale, faint swan
who chants a doleful hymn.50

Fetch me that flower;
the herb I showed thee once.
The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid
will make or man or woman madly dote
upon the next live creature that it sees.

Fetch me this herb,
and be thou here again
ere the leviathan can swim a league.21

Bless this place.51
With this field-dew consecrate;51
from this day to the ending of the world.52

His liberal eye doth give to everyone.53

One touch of nature makes the whole world kin.54

This blessed plot, this earth.55

Newts and blindworms do no wrong.56
Worm nor snail do no offence,56
the crows and choughs
that wing the midway air.57

The poor beetle
that we tread upon
in corporal sufferance
finds a pang as great
as when a giant dies!39

They that have power to hurt
and will do none…
They most do show…
they rightly do inherit
heaven’s graces.58

His fears, out of doubt,
be of the same relish as ours are!28

The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain.
It is twice blest:
it blesseth him that gives,
and him that takes;14
finds tongues in trees,
books in the running brooks,
sermons in stones,
and good in everything.4

Nourish all the world,
else none at all in aught
proves excellent.44

For wisdom’s sake,
for love’s sake.44

Hope Epilogue

To see his face
the lion walked along
behind some hedge,
because he would not fear him.59

The tiger would be tame,
and gently hear him.59

When he beheld his shadow in the brook,
the fishes spread on it their golden gills.59

When he was by,
the birds such pleasure took
that some would sing,
some other in their bills
would bring him mulberries
and ripe-red cherries.59

And nuzzling in his flank,
the loving swine.59

Make tigers tame,
and huge leviathans
forsake unsounded deeps
to dance on sands!60

O spirit of love,
how quick and fresh art thou.61

I dreamt a dream tonight.23


From Shakespeare’s original verses:

1Coriolanus, Act 2, Scene 2

2Anthony and Cleopatra, Act 5, Scene 2

3Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 2

4As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 1

5Henry VIII, Act 2, Scene 4

6Pericles, Act 2, Scene 21

7Cymbeline, Act 5, Scene 5

8Measure for Measure, Act 2, Scene 2

9Richard III, Act 1, Scene 2

10Henry V, Act 4, Scene 1

11All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 3, Scene 2

12Twelfth Night, Act 2, Scene 4

13The Winter’s Tale, Act 1, Scene 2

14The Merchant of Venice, Act 4, Scene 1

15Henry V, Act 5, Scene 2

16As You Like It, Act 2, Scene 7

17Sonnet 33

18The Merchant of Venice, Act 5, Scene 1

19Macbeth, Act 2, Scene 1

20The Phoenix and the Turtle

21A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2, Scene 1

22Richard III, Act 1, Scene 1 (See also The sinking of the Gulf ‘Livestock’ 1)

23Romeo and Juliet, Act 1, Scene 4

24Henry IV, Act 3, Scene 2

25Coriolanus, Act 1, Scene 1

26Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act 5, Scene 2

27Sonnet 146

28Henry V, Act 4, Scene 1

29Richard III, Act 4, Scene 3

30The Winter’s Tale, Act 3, Scene 3

31Timon of Athens, Act 4, Scene 1

32Henry V, Act 1, Scene 2

33Timon of Athens, Act 4, Scene 3

34Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1

35The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene 1

36Julius Caesar, Act 1, Scene 3

37Richard II, Act 1, Scene 3

38Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2

39Measure for Measure, Act 3, Scene 1

40A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2

41Romeo and Juliet, Act 5, Scene 1

42All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 2, Scene 3

43Romeo and Juliet, Act 3, Scene 1

44Love’s Labour’s Lost, Act 4, Scene 3

45Hamlet, Act 5, Scene 2

46The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 4, Scene 2

47Henry V, Prologue to Act 1

48Timon of Athens, Act 5, Scene 2

49Pericles, Act 2, Scene 11

50King John, Act 5, Scene 7

51A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 5, Scene 2

52Henry V, Act 4, Scene 3

53Henry V, Prologue to Act 4

54Troilus and Cressida, Act 3, Verse 3

55Richard II, Act 2, Scene 1

56A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2, Scene 2

57King Lear, Act 4, Scene 5

58Sonnet 94

59Venus and Adonis

60The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act 3, Scene 2 (A vision of The Peaceable Kingdom Restored: “on earth, as it is in heaven”)

61Twelfth Night, Act 1, Scene 1

©Heidi Stephenson, 2023

Shakespeare animals
Graphic: Claire Palmer, IT International Times

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