Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
John McAuliffeBill Manhire in Conversation with John McAuliffe
(PN Review 259)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Patricia CraigVal Warner: A Reminiscence
(PN Review 259)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Gwyneth Lewis ‘Spiderings’ Ian Thomson ‘Fires were started: Tallinn, 1944’ Adrian May ‘Traditionalism and Tradition’ Judith Herzberg ‘Poems’ translated by Margitt Helbert Horatio Morpurgo ‘What is a Book?’
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PN Review 276
PN Review Substack

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

The Unwatched Sheep Roger Scruton

A flock of sheep was guarded by a fierce dog who kept watch at the entrance to their pen. Over the walls of the pen the sheep could see the green slope of a valley, inclining to a river where the crystal water danced over stones. Here and there were bushes bearing fruit: rowan, raspberry and juniper. The sheep longed for the day when the dog would relax his guard, and they could run into those pastures and enjoy the fresh food that was growing there.

Each day a trough, which stood in one corner of the pen, was filled with food, and another with water. The food was dry, tasteless and hard to swallow, and the water was bitter and stale. As they ate and drank, with their eyes on the pastures beyond the wall, the sheep would feel a kind of nausea, which was also dread: for perhaps this would be their life forever. Each day the powdery food and stagnant water came to sustain them. And each day they did as the oldest sheep had taught them, and thanked the dog for providing it.

In their hearts, however, they hated the dog. Once a sheep had expressed her hatred aloud; the dog had seized her and torn her to pieces in his terrible jaws. From that moment the sheep had never raised a murmur against their guardian. All the same, each of them wished that she too had jaws, to use upon ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image