About the poet
David Harsent (b. 1942) won the 2005 Forward Prize for Legion, which was also shortlisted for...
The hare as witch animal
'I can use any one of the nine God-given portals
to slip inside the old bitch, catch
her dozing on the settle,
knees at a bawdy angle, her hand still clutching the bottle,
then wake her and take her out
to fret their corn with mould and leave their cattle
hamstrung amid the eyebright and the vetch.
While she's stripped and whipped I go to ground,
hunkered beneath her ribs but in fine fettle
(since you ask) and alive to the cries and laughter as they fetch
the stool and bring her tethered to the pond
under a sudden rain of stones and spittle.
It's sink or swim for Mother Dark; I've already found
the back way out. Look, there I go at full stretch
between magic and mortal.'
from Marriage (Faber and Faber, 2002), copyright © David Harsent 2002, used by permission of the author
David Harsent Reading from his Poems