Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Lion

Bestiary-blogging, entry 6 of 9

Three years ago, my son Terry and I wrote a young adult fantasy novel called The Poem Beasts. It is currently submitted for consideration at a major publisher. In honor of the opening of the movie of The Hunger Games, a major work in the young adult genre, we offer a taste of our work—nine days of the poems of The Poem Beasts.

The Lion

"Lion" woodblock print by Terry Price.

The lord of beasts, the leaping lion
Crowned and caped in kingly gold
He paces, his protective pelt unpierceable by sword
With magnificent mane of tawny gold fur, surveying the world in majesty
And firm confidence of his conquering qualities
Serpent tailed, a sinuous end for the splendid cat
Only two have triumphantly returned from his grasp
Hercules crushed the cat in Nemea
And Daniel would have died in his den but for the Lord
Always remember and respect their royal grace
Their majesty and might, and immense pride

Historical Background:
The slaying of the Nemean Lion was one of the Twelve Labors of Heracles.  An offspring of the monsters Typhon and Echidna, the Nemean Lion was supernaturally protected by a golden pelt that no ordinary weapon could pierce.  Heracles strangled the lion, and used its pelt to create an armor usually depicted as a cape with the hero’s head exposed within the mouth like a helm.  The other story referred to in the poem, Daniel in the Lions’ Den, is the famous Biblical tale.  Daniel is thrown into the den after refusing to give up his worship of God.  God protects him during his time with the lions.  In ancient stories like these, lions are large ferocious man killers.  To survive their encounters, our heroes must rely upon something extraordinary—great strength in the case of Heracles and great faith with Daniel.  Our poetic lion gets the added twist of a serpent tail.

Fragment of a Greek mosaic of the Nemean lion at the
Archaeological Museum of Paros, Greece.
Source: Wikimedia Commons.

© 2012 Lee and Terry Price  


  1. I am intrigued.

    I am also peeved. One of the family cats is sleeping behind me, snoring gently and taking away a bit of the regal sense of the poem.

  2. Maybe your cat is dreaming of being "(c)rowned and caped in kingly gold"!

  3. Terry's woodblock prints are wonderful and a perfect addition to your YA book. I've enjoyed every single one of them. They deserve their own exhibition.