I have deliberated, daydreamed for years over what tattoo(s) to get. I came to the conclusion early on that I wanted it to be writing, and there’s a lot of poetry I’ve liked for over 20 years. I had nearly decided on this:  Le monde est a la fois merveilleux et atroce, un miracle et l’enfer. (The world is at the same time marvellous and atrocious, a miracle, and hell.) but I decided it was a bit pretentious having something in French, and anyway it’s a bit too general and also rather too dramatic. I wanted something that would show my love for all animals and my sadness about all the animals on the planet who are suffering and my fury and rage at humans and the ill they do. It’s something I feel passionately about and something that will never change. I decided on this:

The bleat, bellow, bark and roar

Are waves that wash on Heaven’s shore

It’s just a tiny excerpt from an epic poem by William Blake, who died in 1827. Here’s some more lines from it:

To see a world in a grain of sand

And a heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour

A robin redbreast in a cage

Puts all heaven in a rage

A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons

Shudders hell thro’ all its regions

Each outcry of the hunted hare

A fibre from the brain does tear

A skylark wounded on the wing

A cherubim does cease to sing

The game-cock clipt and arm’d for fight

Does the rising sun affright

He who shall hurt the little wren

Shall never be belov’d by men

A truth that’s told with bad intent

Beats all the lies you can invent

Joy and woe are woven fine

A clothing for the soul divine

Under every grief and pine

Runs a joy with silken twine

Every night and every morn

Some to misery are born

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to sweet delight

Some are born to endless night

Doesn’t it just say it all?

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