Ivan Phillips, ‘The Lycanthrope;

Ivan Phillips, of the University of Hertfordshire’s School of Creative Arts, has been involved with the OGOM Project from the beginning. He has written a powerful poem about werewolves here:

The Lycanthrope

Hypocrisy is woven of a fine small thread,
Subtler than Vulcan’s engine: yet, believe’t,
Your darkest actions: nay, your privat’st thoughts,
Will come to light. – The Duchess of Malfi

When babies start to vanish in broad daylight,
when there are whispers of invasion and plague
and the church has never been so full,

when the streets are nothing but belly and tongue
and the Devil’s been seen
for seven stormy nights on the trot

pissing into a paw-print in the graveyard by the pub –
then the old duke dons his finest robes, rides into the village
and declares that the paw-print’s been supped from.

He talks of witchery. Possession. Guilt. He leads a fiery mob
through ransacked farmyards to an out-house
where a stranger cowers in filth and sweating straw,

shiny with sores from head to foot.
The light’s bad, they’re tired and it’s hard to tell fur from dirt
or rag from limb

but in these shaggiest of dog days
a bloodshot eye is as sure a sign
as bristly palms or pointed ears, as red hair or a stammer.

So they tumble back to the village and the panic dies down.
A bad time is broken on a wheel,
a head lopped off, thrown to the crowd.

It knocks and bobs, skips from hand to hand
as the folk go wild, scrabbling for a hair from scalp or chin,
missing what’s twitching under the old duke’s skin.

About William the Bloody

Cat lover. 18C scholar on the dialogue and novel. Co-convenor OGOM Project
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