The King of Gentleshaw Common

by Maria Whatton

I am the creature with padded paw,
that skims the sky with silky wings.
I am the cat with sharpened claw,
That rides the air of Gentleshaw
of the Common I am King.

My crown – my Kingly diadem
is set with berries – black and red,
they hang like jewels from thorny stems
and glisten in the rain like gems
upon my wild, majestic head.

My throne is the bough of a gnarled old oak
from which I breathe a magic charm
across the land, across the folk,
I spread enchantment like a cloak
from the highest clouds to the mud in the barn.

In Spring I blow the blossom on
the branches of the apple tree
I breathe until the leaves are gone
when Winter chills descend upon
the Common’s icy gallery.

In Summer I paint the blue bells blue,
the grass a vivid spiky green.
The heather I spray a lilac hue,
I rest the dead and make life new
I sing the song of the earth’s pale dream.

I growl like a dog, I chirp like a bird,
I move as fast as the wind in a storm,
I wake at night and walk at dawn,
before the larks have barely stirred,
before the sunbeams have been born.

I am the friend of the snake and the snail,
the bee and the beetle the bug and the deer.
I am the laughter you can hear,
as children sprint a starry trail
through every season every year.

I am the Creature with padded paw,
That scores the air with silky wings.
I am the cat with sharpened claw,
That rides the air of Gentleshaw
Of the Common I am King.


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I wrote this poem in response to a group of children who I was working with. We were walking across Gentleshaw Common and they convinced me that there was a wild, magical beast who existed there. They also said “…and nobody has ever seen him.” This was a perfect opportunity to invent him. – Maria

Maria Whatton is a Storyteller and Writer. For more details visit: