These creatures that one does not see often:
The badger that I saw under a gate
As I leaned upon it, sudden, surprised
While the badger looked up but did not move.

Then, yesterday or the day before, that otter:
As he swam in the distance, I thought, ‘a moorhen’;
Then he came out of vagueness into sight,
Sinuous and sleek, swimming with all assurance,

His bright wet fur and only brighter eyes
Advancing and manoeuvering like a fleet
And so he came to land under my nose,
But I stirred once, and he was gone.

Inhabitants of the unpublicised world
Whom no word can foul, who eat and kill
According to the nature of the beast:
Give us example of discretion.

A Message from the Editors

Our past successes are owed to our greatest ambassadors: our readers. Our future rests on your support, as The New Criterion Editor Roger Kimball explains. Will you help us continue to bring our incisive review of the arts and culture to the next generation of readers?

This article originally appeared in The New Criterion, Volume 2 Number 9, on page 54
Copyright © 2017 The New Criterion | www.newcriterion.com
newcriterion.com/issues/1984/5/the-otter