Anti-ode to the Giant Rat of Sumatra



Copyright 2023 James C Horner



A creature of Indonesia,
legend and literature,
Sherlock Holmes’s brief allusion
yields novels, films, and comics.
In the Adventures of Tintin, when Captain Haddock
awakens from a bad dream, he yells,
” a giant rat of Sumatra!”

So this poor beast became a meme.
Like all who scurry on the earth,
he lived by his wits.
Not his fault he was the vector
for Tapanuli Fever.
From the Sunda rain forest
to the streets of London,
he was the symbol of disease,
Oriental terrors,
(as if  Westminster were the Heavenly Jerusalem).
And where did his evil originate?
In the minds of men–
Professor Moriarty, himself the fictional Napoleon of crime.

The rat spawned a tale for which the world is not yet prepared.


Anti-ode to the Giant Rat of Sumatra

by James Horner

What does this rat yield, what does it shield
in tropical, hot and humid Sumatra,
where lurk
colonial whiffs
of Empire mucky and scrappy?

This rat exhales a squealing breath,
bacterial cauldron,
feverish fits,
an animal plucky
enough to feast on rotten meat,
discarded rinds
by a fast banditRAT.

This large Sumatran bamboo rat is real and true;
and, improbable as it seems, God’s creature too.

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