Sunday, 24 July 2016

POEM - Boatswain

A couple of weeks' ago, I was involved in a poetry event at Newstead Abbey, the ancestral home of the poet Lord Byron. Since then, I've found myself thinking a lot about Byron's writing, and about the house itself.

George Gordon Byron was a pretty complicated character who wrote some beautiful poetry, but the thing that always strikes me whenever I got to Newstead is the enormous tomb in the garden, which Byron dedicated to his dog Boatswain, who died of rabies in 1808. The monument includes a long poetic inscription (which you can read here) and I really like it because it proves that people have been going doe-eyed over their pets for at least two-hundred years. This makes me feel better about the five-hundred photos of my cat I have stored on my phone.

As you can see if you read the Epitaph on the tomb, Byron really loved that dog. In fact, if anyone ever loves me as much as Byron loved Boatswain, I will be happy woman! (Although the love between Byron and his dog was strictly platonic, so don't get any funny ideas there!)

Anyway, I like to do a cover version where I can, so I thought that Boatswain would be the perfect topic for a re-imagining of the classic Byron poem 'She Walks in Beauty'. My version is called 'He rolls in goose poo':

He rolls in goose poo

He rolls in goose poo to impress
the rabbits, who are half his size.
His waking thoughts, no one can guess;
There's puzzlement deep in his eyes.
He's not a beauty, he's a mess;
His pungent smell attracts the flies.

He's got a limp, a gammy paw,
And struggles with incontinence.
He's frequently sick on the floor
But still you treat him like a prince.
His foibles make you love him more -
The rest of us are unconvinced.

And when he dies, you'll build a shrine,
Ensure an epitaph is penned
To speak the truth in every line
And mourn the passing of a friend.
A peerless, canine paradigm
Who loved you to the bitter end.

What a good doggy! Yes you are!

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