It seemed strangely appropriate to republish this poem at this point for reasons that I hope will be obvious.
The wanton troopers riding by
Have shot my fawn and it must die.
I should not waste words,
not because there are not enough of them
– there are probably too many,
at least of the wrong kind –
but because trees have died
to give me this opportunity
and I shall not be all that long
in the following them.
I would not like to think that I had lied,
avoidably got it wrong
or even told an unnecessary truth.
I am very tempted to continue comfortably
in the neon-lit fortress of our security.
Although the light is artificial
it seldom goes out,
and only civilised hazards, like Murder, who is described
in the literature as usually quiet
and a good family man, and Hypocrisy,
who meets me at the mirror every morning,
occasionally bother the law abiding citizen.
If I do, by remaining colludingly
silent, by becoming yet another paranoid
advocate of the status quo, or by enjoying
the benefits I despise of a culture I am
pretending to subvert, the wild fawn
in the folding forest of my mind will, in the end,
lose all hope, retire beyond betraying
into some pathless hideaway, close its unreproaching eyes
I look into your eyes, my friend,
or into yours, as you hide the knife
intended for my back, and, muffled there,
persuade myself I see you share
the same sense as I do of a victim
of our criminal neglect within, protected by no laws,
championed by no charitable societies,
royal or otherwise,
unspoken for in parliament and pulpit,
the object of no campaign, no collection,
no subscription, no demonstration,
and the subject of no referendum, election,
petition, or civil rights movement
such as traditionally adopt
any cause which can be proved
beyond fashionable doubt
to have been despised and rejected.
Seeing all that, I wonder how
the fawn can ever be protected.
Silence does not of necessity collude,
and a resolute man might well decide
that at this time to remain silent
is the only form of adequate dissent,
all words being of the wrong kind.
I am not strong enough to hold my tongue,
assuming that I should.
I live from day to day as best I can
fearing that my dreams
or some winter morning’s darkness will reveal
the fawn retreating beyond my influence
into the undergrowth of my unacknowledgeable thoughts.
I have found no words, no deeds
dispel the fear.
Able neither to continue as I am
nor change with equanimity
Scenting a strange presence,
the fawn, motionless, alert,
tests the air with wide nostrils
unable to decide which way to move.
I will protract this moratorium
as long as I can.
Each tiny gesture of my waking life
must be weighed against its cost.
There will be no solace, the fawn lost.
I have spent
for the sake of
Pete Hulme Text © 1982