The Tiger and the Deer


Brilliant, crouching, slouching, what crept through the green heart of the forest,
Gleaming eyes and mighty chest and soft soundless paws of grandeur and murder?
The wind slipped through the leaves as if afraid lest its voice and the noise
of its steps perturb the pitiless Splendour,
Hardly daring to breathe. But the great beast crouched and crept, and crept
and crouched a last time, noiseless, fatal,
Till suddenly death leaped on the beautiful wild deer as it drank
Unsuspecting at the great pool in the forest’s coolness and shadow,
And it fell and, torn, died remembering its mate left sole in the deep woodland, —
Destroyed, the mild harmless beauty by the strong cruel beauty in Nature.
But a day may yet come when the tiger crouches and leaps no more
in the dangerous heart of the forest,
As the mammoth shakes no more the plains of Asia;
Still then shall the beautiful wild deer drink from the coolness
of great pools in the leaves’ shadow.
The mighty perish in their might;
The slain survive the slayer.


Notes on Text
1942. A single handwritten manuscript precedes the On Quantitative Metre revision work.

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