Sorrow is my head
where the flames flame
often before but not
with the cold fire
that closes round me this hour
My mother died today
A family of badgers have tunnelled into the graveyard to extend their sett from a neighbouring field, destroying graves in the process.
Widow Shirley Webb, 72, was horrified to find several graves collapsed, and the wooden casket containing her late husband Jesse exposed by the tunnelling creatures.
Unfortunately, there is nothing the family can do about it.
"It broke my heart," Mrs Webb told the newspaper. "If it were kids vandalising these graves they'd be sent to prison.
"We're told if we touch it, we may be arrested.
"I'd always wished to be buried with Jesse. Now I'm going to have my ashes scattered by a brook where he proposed to me. It's the only sacred place we have left."
As a result of the badgers' activity at St Lawrence Church, Gloucs, three graves have been damaged, and four more in danger of collapse have been cordoned off.
Under the 1992 Protection of Badgers Act it is an offence to disturb the badgers, with a maximum penalty of six months in jail or a £5,000 fine.
Rev David Eady, 64, said: "We sympathise with the families, but our hands are tied."
by John Clare (1793-1864)
When midnight comes a host of dogs and men
Go out and track the badger to his den,
And put a sack within the hole, and lie
Till the old grunting badger passes bye.
He comes and hears-they let the strongest loose.
The old fox hears the noise and drops the goose.
The poacher shoots and hurries from the cry,
And the old hare half wounded buzzes by.
They get a forked stick to bear him down
And clap the dogs and take him to the town,
And bait him all the day with many dogs,
And laugh and shout and fright the scampering hogs.
He runs along and bites at all he meets:
They shout and hollo down the noisy streets.
He turns about to face the loud uproar
And drives the rebels to their very door.
The frequent stone is hurled where eer they go;
When badgers fight, then every one's a foe.
The dogs are clapt and urged to join the fray;
The badger turns and drives them all away.
Though scarcely half as big, demure and small,
He fights with dogs for bones and beats them all.
The heavy mastiff, savage in the fray,
Lies down and licks his feet and turns away.
The bulldog knows his match and waxes cold,
The badger grins and never leaves his hold.
He drives the crowd and follows at their heels
And bites them through-the drunkard swears and reels.
The frightened women take the boys away,
The blackguard laughs and hurries on the fray.
He tries to reach the woods, and awkward race,
But sticks and cudgels quickly stop the chace.
He turns agen and drives the noisy crowd
And beats the many dogs in noises loud.
He drives away and beats them every one,
And then they loose them all and set them on.
He falls as dead and kicked by boys and men,
Then starts and grins and drives the crowd agen;
Till kicked and torn and beaten out he lies
And leaves his hold and crackles, groans, and dies.