Song of the Brindled Ox

On the meadows of Defwy he grazed,
head low, meadow-grass like sea-foam
around his lips, brindled coat shining.
A grandsire of cattle cut, a collar

of seven-score links circling his neck
with a heavy golden chain.
He’d ploughed Annwn’s fields
with brawn and thunder for countless years,

been turned out to rest, at peace
in green fields where time never passes,
nor sunshine and grass never grows short.
Then a sword like a lightning bolt

shattered glass walls, screams
of the dying filled his ears with madness.
He could not break free and run.
Blood filled his nostrils.

He saw red and seven warriors
approaching through the bloody fog.
He fought against them long and hard.
When he was weak and bleeding

they took the chain and hauled.
He dug in all four hooves.
He scraped stars from the sky
with the bow of his curved horns.

His final bellow shook Annwn’s bones.
The dead cried out as the grandsire
of cattle was dragged aboard
the white ship that travels

time, space, worlds,
killing, plundering, maiming,
serving up all wonder at a worldly feast:
a marriage sealed with the Spoils of Annwn.

ox drawing Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707-1788)
Ox Drawing, Georges Louis Leclerc de Buffon (1707-1788), Public Domain

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