Sheep in Poetry

Jo Shapcot




In reality, sheep are brave, enlightened

and sassy. They are walking clouds

and like clouds have forgotten

how to jump. As lambs they knew.

Lambs jump because in their innocence

they still find grass exciting.

Some turf is better for tiptoeing

say lambs. Springy meadows

have curves which invite fits

of bouncing and heel-kicking

to turn flocks of lambs

into demented white spuds boiling in the pot.

Then there is a French style of being a lamb

which involves show and a special touch

at angling the bucking legs. Watch carefully

next time: Lambs love to demonstrate -

you wont have to inveigle.

Eventually, of course, lambs grow trousers

and a blast of wool

which keeps them anchored to the sward.

Then grass is first and foremost

savoury, not palatable.

I prefer the grown sheep: even when damp

she is brave, enlightened and sassy,

her eye a kaleidoscope of hail and farewell,

her tail her most eloquent organ of gesture.

When she speaks, it is to tell me

that she is under a spell, polluted.

Her footwear has been stolen

and the earth rots her feet.

In reality she walks across the sky

upside down in special pumps.


Christian Morgenstern:


Das Mondschaf


Das Mondschaf steht auf weiter Flur.

Es harrt und harrt der grossen Schur.

Das Mondschaf.


Das Mondschaf rupft an einem Half

und geht dann heim auf seine Alm.

Das Mondschaf.


Das Mondschaf spricht zu sich im Traum:

"Ich bin des Weltalls dunkler Raum".

Das Mondschaf.


Das Mondschaf liegt am Morgen tot.

Sein Leib ist weiss, die Sonn' ist rot.

Das Mondschaf.



The Sheep

Ellis Parker Butler

The Sheep adorns the landscape rural
And is both singular and plural—
It gives grammarians the creeps
To hear one say, “A flock of sheeps.”
The quantum sheep
The Sheep is gentle, meek and mild,
And led in herds by man or child—
Being less savage than the rabbit,
Sheep are gregarious by habit.

The Sheep grows wool and thus promotes
The making of vests, pants and coats—
Vests, pants and coats and woolen cloths
Provide good food for hungry moths.

With vegetables added to
The Sheep, we get our mutton stew—
Experiments long since revealed
The Sheep should first be killed and peeled.

Thus, with our debt to them so deep,
All men should cry “Praise be for Sheep!”—
And, if we happen to be shepherds,
“Praise be they’re not as fierce as leopards!”

A poem about sheep

 Aileen Whyte

Over the hilltops and down in the glens,
I noticed that sheep do not live in their pens;
they cling to the mountains and high rocky tops:
how on earth do they get there without their Reeboks?

Up on the Aonach Eagach
hanging on to a wee rock bridge,
when yet again these sheep come by:
how do they follow me so high?

One last time I took a chance,
led those sheep a merry dance:
into the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye:
the In. Pinn. - they can't get that high.

But alas! Alack!! It was not to be:
the sheep were up there waiting for me!
Those trusty sheep, that pouring rain,
without them the hills would not be the same.

  Black Sheep

Richard Francis Burton

FROM their folded mates they wander far,
Their ways seem harsh and wild:
They follow the beck of a baleful star,
Their paths are dream-beguiled.

Yet haply they sought but a wider range,
Some loftier mountain slope,
And little recked of the country strange
Beyond the gates of hope.

And haply a bell with a luring call
Summoned their feet to tread
Midst the cruel rocks, where the deep pitfall
And the lurking snare are spread.

Maybe, in spite of their tameless days
Of outcast liberty,
They ’re sick at heart for the homely ways
Where their gathered brothers be.

And oft at night, when the plains fall dark
And the hills loom large and dim,
For the shepherd’s voice they mutely hark,
And their souls go out to him.

Meanwhile, “Black sheep! black sheep!” we cry,
Safe in the inner fold;
And maybe they hear, and wonder why,
And marvel, out in the cold.


Novica Tadic

Song to the Lamb

          Lamb indestructible lamb
You who loaded with crystals crossed the mountain
Lamb from the most distant cave
Lamb who peed on the black stones
Yo-yo turning on the highest rock
Lamb with fleece of bones
                              In the deepest night
You who bleat among the oldest trees
                              Lamb who remembers
Lamb grazing and browsing the human brain
Lamb who imagined the blue sky
Lamb of all the firmaments
Lamb who leaves behind wild strawberries
Lamb who makes the open eyes open again
Lamb with deepest waters
                              In your burning eyes
Lamb indestructible lamb
                          Lamb of dark forest
With a wreath of needles in your fleece
                                    Lamb of juniper bush
With a purple berry in your hoof
Lamb of the deepest abyss you descend down the mountain
Lamb spreading the scent of fir trees at night
Lamb with snowballs of last year snow on your back
Lamb with white teeth O long-legged Lamb
Who will kill me

                Terrifying lamb
You dug for me tonight an appropriate grave
                             in the midst of the world
Where you'll settle down finally settle down
The way your tongue settles down between my jaws
                                  Accurately settles down