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‘The Badger’: A Poem by John Clare

How many great poems about badgers are there in English literature? ‘The Badger’, by the criminally underrated English Romantic poet John Clare (1793-1864), is perhaps the greatest of this small and select group. ‘The Badger’ is written in rhyming couplets, also known as ‘heroic couplets’ – and although Clare describes the way the badger is hunted and caught, he imbues the creature with a quiet heroism and nobility. After describing the badger’s appearance and habits, Clare then details how the badger is caught, trapped, and baited.

The Badger

The badger grunting on his woodland track
With shaggy hide and sharp nose scrowed with black
Roots in the bushes and the woods, and makes
A great high burrow in the ferns and brakes.
With nose on ground he runs an awkward pace,
And anything will beat him in the race.
The shepherd’s dog will run him to his den
Followed and hooted by the dogs and men. Read the rest of this entry