It’s not new for me! This was published in 1971 in The Lady
(written under the name I used then for Natural History books)
Epitaph for the Badger
A snarling dark shape in the depths of night,
To blunder into whilst you’re sharing paths,
Reduces careless ignorance to fright.
But in others raises quick-witted laughs.
There are very few to be had today,
Farmers and ministers have seen to that.
While hunts sabs and patrols, try as they may,
Can’t hope to mangle each and every 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.
And then a microscopic deadly bug,
Named long ago after some wretched cow,
Makes untold thousands of needless graves dug.
Continues the killing 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 now no escape from trap or cage.
The badger lapses, senseless and forlorn,
And awaits the man blind intent with rage.
The end comes quick enough in drifts of mud.
All it proclaims is man’s insanity.
An inhuman prison, base mired in blood.
And no earthly help to bovine TB.
Across all the land, thousands of cattle
Who, for all their history, stamp and fret
With no fear or thought of senseless battle.
And leave trails of death we’ll 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.
Is there anyone left who is 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 the science shows,
However black and white (and neat) it feels,
The badger’s not the enemy they know;
For it’s cows which take the bug 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 will find another excuse for prey.
And as though all this wasn’t bad enough,
We see the man touting pistol or gun
Who thinks it’s a mark of being real tough:
Sport of 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 who 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
A bloodlust thirsting 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.
(c) Richard Meyer, September 2018