Drystone Wall with Light falling through


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Table of Contents

What is the Truth?
A Farmyard Fable for the Young

Note: The original ed. of 1984 gives no poem titles nor a contents listing.


First Line

["One Day God's Son Looked Down At The Earth …"] [Intro]

One Day God's Son Looked Down At The Earth


A grand bird is the Partridge, a wild weed of a sort

Bess my badger

Bess my badger grew up


The Badger in the spinney is the true king of this land

New Foal

Yesterday he was nowhere to be found

Cow I

There's comfort in the Cow, my dear, she's mother to us all

Cow II

The Cow is but a bagpipe


I think

Shire Horses

One time we had nothing else of course and handsome they were


Sing the hole's plume, the rafter's cockade

The Rook

With his clothes-peg beak and his bald face


Rooks love excitement. When I walked in under the rookery

The Fox is a jolly farmer

The Fox is a jolly farmer and we farm the same land

The problem about lambs

The problem about lambs

Sheep I

If the world were a Sheep, would the Sheep be its Lamb?

Sheep II

The Truth about the Sheep alas

The beggarly Bat

The beggarly Bat, a cut-out, scattily


Big hands - broad, workaday hands

A Riddle



The Pig that ploughs the orchard with her nose

Swallows I

Blue splinters of queer metal are swallows

Swallows II

What is loveliest about swallows

Swallows III

I agree

Swallows IV

I'll say this for swallows, they're marvellous workers


My donkey


At a big wedding


Pigeons! They're problems. You know why their crop's called a crop?

Main thing about Badgers

Main thing about badgers is hating daylight

The Treecreeper

On a tree-bole: a zigzag upward rivulet

Weasel I

The Weasel whizzes through the woods, he sizzles through the brambles


The Mouse's round and round and abouts

Mice are funny little creatures

Mice are funny little creatures

The Fly

The Fly


I don't know about flies

Weasel II

Every creature in its own way

The White-collared Dove

O the White-collared Dove has a swollen nose!

The roustabout Rooster

Why is it


The Hen


A few quick flirts of their shameless tails

Billy Goat

With a watery trickle of hooves, a tender bleating

Nanny Goat

If the Goat's eye really were a globe


Geese are godly creatures, not just for Christmas show

Two Geese

I remember two geese - mainly remember

The Vixen

An October robin kept

Hunting Song

O he steals our crooked speeches, says the Hunting Horn


I hear for every acre there's a ton of worms beneath

Weasel III

Its face is a furry lizard's face, but prettier

The twilight white Owl

To see the twilight white Owl wavering over the dew-mist

Catching Carp

When the heat-wave world of midsummer

The Hedgehog

The Hedgehog has Itchy the Hedgehog to hug

The Hare I

That Elf

The Hare II

The Hare is a very fragile thing

The Hare III

Uneasy she nears

The Hare IV

I've seen her

The Hare V

There's something eerie about a hare, no matter how stringy and old


A mournful note, a crying note

Roger the Dog

Asleep he wheezes at his ease


I was carrying our cat


I dreamed I woke and was a bark

Somebody *

Drip-tree stillness. And a spring-feeling elation


O early one dawn I walked over the dew

* This is the poem »A Solstice,« originally published in a limited edition in 1978. The 1984 edition of What is the Truth? is the first trade publication that includes this poem.