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This poem is taken from PN Review 77, Volume 17 Number 3, January - February 1991.

Four Poems Vicki Raymond

THE LEGEND OF JULIAN

Various saints have been depicted with stags; notably, St. Eustace, who is shown confronting a stag which bears a crucifix between its antlers. When the stag bears no crucifix, the saint is Julian the Hospitaller, patron of innkeepers, boatmen, and travellers.


                          I

The hunter, in blackness burning like a brand,
pierces the forest brain, and bursts at last
into a clear space of sunlight. From his hand
drops the slack rein. The hounds begin to cast
about for the scent of fear, while, in plain sight,
a few feet off, the hart of ten stands fast.
The air vibrates with summer, but the night
of woven branches silences the birds,
even within this circle of green light.
The hart, indifferent, drops the oval turds
of St. John's Eve, and Julian's horse takes fright.
Then from the hart to Julian flow words
like these: That man who hunts me here today,
in time to come, shall father and mother slay
.
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