Les Murray’s “Animal Nativity”
The Iliad of peace began
when this girl agreed.
Now goats in trees, fish in the valley
suddenly feel vivid.
Swallows flit in the stable as if
a hatching of their kind,
turned human, cried in the manger
showing the hunger-diamond.
Cattle are content that this calf
must come in human form.
Spiders discern a water-walker.
Even humans will sense the lamb,
He who frees from the old poem
turtle-dove and snake,
who gets death forgiven
who puts the apple back.
Dogs, less enslaved but as starving
as the poorest human there,
crouch, agog at a crux of presence
remembered as a star.