Guest poem sent in by Mallika Chellappa
(Poem #1307) The Song of the Little Hunter
Ere Mor the Peacock flutters, ere the Monkey People cry, Ere Chil the Kite swoops down a furlong sheer, Through the Jungle very softly flits a shadow and a sigh-- He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear! Very softly down the glade runs a waiting, watching shade, And the whisper spreads and widens far and near. And the sweat is on thy brow, for he passes even now-- He is Fear, O Little Hunter, he is Fear! Ere the moon has climbed the mountain, ere the rocks are ribbed with light, When the downward-dipping trails are dank and drear, Comes a breathing hard behind thee--snuffle-snuffle through the night-- It is Fear, O Little Hunter it is Fear, On thy knees and draw the bow; bid the shrilling arrow go; In the empty, mocking thicket plunge the spear! But thy hands are loosed and weak, and the blood has left thy cheek-- It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear! When the heat-cloud sucks the tempest, when the slivered pine-trees fall, When the blinding, blaring rain-squalls lash and veer, Through the war-gongs of the thunder rings a voice more loud than all-- It is Fear, O Little Hunter, it is Fear! Now the spates are banked and deep; now the footless boulders leap-- Now the lightning shows each littlest leaf--rib clear-- But thy throat is shut and dried, and thy heart against thy side Hammers: Fear, O Little Hunter--this is Fear!
While I was on the subject of poems read in early childhood, this one occurred. Of course it is very Indian and of course the monsoon always brings this one to mind. And of course, it is based on childhood's imagined bogies. Mallika [Martin adds] Another favourite. I disagree with Mallika in that it never particularly spoke of childhood to me - rather, it describes vividly and well the terrors that haunt the hindbrain, the ancient fears of demons in the dark, of teeth and claws and silent death that strikes sudden and unseen, of all the visceral reactions that we never really control - and that never really leave us. In terms of sheer atmospehere, today's poem ranks very high indeed among the greats. martin