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  • Ian Dudley

Please Take Care of the Valuable Livestock

© The Henry Moore Foundation

You're walking through the frosty Devon countryside, and slowly become aware that you are being watched. You look up and stare into the slit-like eyes of your wooly overlord. Or something like that. I imagine Henry Moore felt much the same when he was making this etching of a frankly disturbing sheep’s head (and that's before you notice the wonky eyes).

Sheep have always been seen as harmlessly stupid, although the New Zealand film, Black Sheep, tried to redress the balance with a plot driven by genetically engineered vampire sheep. I enjoyed the film a lot at the time, but I don’t think it changed anyone’s opinion of sheep. (I haven't watched it since, so I wouldn't want to send people scurrying off to Netflix: please check your favourite review aggregator).

Please Take Care of the Valuable Livestock probably started as an echo of those vampire sheep, but the sheep in the poem is both far more placid and powerful.

The poem is published on the Zoomorphic magazine website, which describes itself as “In Celebration and Defence of Wild Animals”. As a lapsed Zoologist I’m delighted to be published by them. If you visit, take some time to click around as they publish a lot of really good poets, and some stunning art.

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