Shrill and astonishing the shrew

Dashes through the early dew.


He’s a famine on four feet:

‘Something to eat! Something to eat!’


His scream is thinner than a pin

And hurts your ear when it goes in.


And when he meets another shrew

He doesn’t rear on hinder toes


And nose to tender, waggling nose

Gently ask: ‘How do you do?’


He draws a single, furious breath

And fights the other to the death.



from the collection ‘The Cat and the Cuckoo’