Poem – LA BÊTE DE GÉVAUDAN: 1764-1767 (THE BEAST OF GEVAUDAN) (By Ray Gallucci)
LA BÊTE DE GÉVAUDAN: 1764-1767 (THE BEAST OF GEVAUDAN)
What devastated Central France three centuries ago?
“A Wolfman Beast” said those who glanced and dodged this deadly foe.
“La Bête de Gévaudan” – from Hell some thought this demon came.
Yet only kids and women killed, no sheep or cattle maimed.
Attacks were focused on the head, and organs it devoured.
More than one hundred humans dead, a region wide it scoured.
Decapitated victims some, atypical of wolves.
And sometimes upright it would run – on feet or paws or hooves?
Appeared some killings sexual – sub-human had to be?
Abandoned child once raised by wolves? Some claimed to hear it speak.
The King dispatched his hunter royal, “Bring back this savage beast.”
And he obliged as subject loyal – returned with wolf deceased.
And though Versailles declared the threat no longer to exist,
In Gévaudan still raged La Bête with no one to resist.
For two years more it killed unchecked until one Jean Chastel
Used silver bullet priest had blessed to send it back to Hell.
To Paris experts it was brought, yet quickly decomposed.
So no one gave it second thought. Of carcass they disposed.
Definitive identity has never been resolved.
Perhaps some hybrid canine breed of dog and wolf evolved?
Escaped hyena from a zoo? Of some it’s been the choice.
Bone-crushing jaws reputed to possess, with laughing voice.
How did Chastel succeed in killing when so many failed?
Some say La Bête approached him willingly as if was hailed.
A Jack the Ripper of his time who used a special “pet”
To maul the remnants of his crime – his personal “La Bête?”
Was its last victim one too many for Chastel to bear?
And so repented he of any further terror there?
Its way into a novel found when legend was revived
As Sherlock’s Baskervillen Hound that Conan Doyle contrived.
It’s still today a mystery without solution known,
A prelude of French history – first “Reign of Terror” sown.
(Published in TALES OF THE TALISMAN [Volume VIII, Issue 2, p. 71])
I am a Professional Engineer who has been writing poetry since 1990. I am an incorrigible rhymer, tending toward the skeptical/cynical regarding daily life. I have been fortunate to have been published in poetry magazines and on-line journals such as NUTHOUSE, MOTHER EARTH INTERNATIONAL, FEELINGS/POETS’ PAPER, MÖBIUS (when Jean Hull Herman published), PABLO LENNIS, MUSE OF FIRE, SO YOUNG!, THE AARDVARK ADVENTURER, POETIC LICENSE, THUMBPRINTS, UNLIKELY STORIES, BIBLIOPHILOS, FULLOSIA PRESS, NOMAD’S CHOIR, HIDDEN OAK, PABLO LENNIS, POETSESPRESSO, SOUL FOUNTAIN, WRITER’S JOURNAL, ATLANTIC PACIFIC PRESS, DERONDA REVIEW, LYRIC, THE STORYTELLER, WRITE ON! and DANA LITERARY SOCIETY.