Poet Oveate to the Royal Sheep

Humorous poetry and ballad poems about the Cotswold Sheep

The following samples are taken from The;
Bertie Ramsbottom Book of Improbable Sheep

Click on a title to read the piece...

Poet Oveate of the Royal Sheep

from The Bertie Ramsbottom Book of Improbable Sheep

Ariana Windle, Bertie Ramsbottom and Ralph Windle


It took the fresh eye of my American artist wife Ariana to see, photograph and paint the infinite variety of British Sheep. Bertie Ramsbottom was born of this creative alliance, and together they have established the Sheep as Man's Best Friend against the spurious claims of dogs, cats and other useless upstarts.

For it is as sure as night follows day that it is the Sheep, of all animals and throughout his history, which has been pre-eminent Best Friend to human kind, supplying much more than the chops and woolly sweaters so grudgingly acknowledged.

For there would be no Art, no Literature, without the ovine species. These Felicitous Muttonings - the great Frank Muir's phrase for what follows - give the Sheep's own perspective on this relationship. They will lead you to look afresh in the fields tomorrow at this most singular and under-valued companion and critic of humanity.

War & Fleece

Of all of the creatures that I've ever known -
Excepting his head and erogenous zone -
The human's anatomy seems, I declare,
To be worst in respect of the absence of hair.

To be born without thermally sound insulation
Is the sign of a backward, inferior station,
And puts him at grave disadvantage to me,
With indigenous wool from my head to my knee.

I suspect that this lack of an adequate fleece
Is the probable cause of his pending demise.
For, if he were not so exposed to the weather,
And thus always close to the end of his tether,
His energy crises might not be the cause
Of these constant obsessions with quarrels and wars;
Till the bountiful earth and the opulent oceans
Resound to the pound of his oily commotions.

So if, as he thinks, he is cleverer far
Than the whole of the rest of us animals are,
Why on earth can't he emulate all other creatures
By growing a pelt on his prominent features?
Or implanting the warm and most intimate peace
Of his very own soft, subcutaneous fleece?

Now, if he would turn all his science to this,
And give all his wilder pretensions a miss,
There might yet be cause for some little elation,
And we'd welcome him back to the rest of creation.

Meanwhile, since we always have plenty to spare,
We'll continue to offer him woollies to wear,
Even though doing so tends to confirm his
Lack of a thermally sound epidermis.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

To The Manor Born

Is the cutest, most innocent lambkin alive.
She comes from the purest of pedigree stock,
From the upper-class end of the wealthiest flock.

Elspeth-Elizabeth's blue-blooded Pa
Was appropriate match for her regal Mama,
He from the line of Great Rameses VII,
And she from the Twistleton-Tuppes of Dunleven.

Elspeth-Elizabeth's grooming and poise
Marked her apart from the girls and the boys;
Showed in the tone of her elegant baa
From the Debutantes' Lambery, Cheltenham Spa.

Elspeth-Elizabeth's mother's desire,
After bringing her out at the Trials in the Shire,
Was to get her to move in desirable quarters
And mix in a suitable circle of daughters.

Now all of their loftiest hopes have been met
With Elspeth-Elizabeth named in Debrett
As First-Ewe-in-Waiting and Premiere Dam,
To the Duchy of Cornwall's chief resident Ram.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Monarch of the Glen

I'm Andrew McTavish frae over the Border,
And mony's the year that I've ganged thra' the heather;
My fathers were here when the auld Thane of Cawdor
And Lady McBeth were sleep-walkin' tegither.
There's a chill in ma bones and I'm no unco pretty
Through trampin' these hills in the rain and the weather.

But I'm Cock o' the Hielands frae here tae the city,
And mony's the dam that has swooned tae my blether!
So it's auch for the noo and a muckle's a mickle!
Before I'm a haggis let's tak' a wee dram;
Before I'm the kilt for this bandy-legged shepherd,
Let's drink tae the health o' the auld Scottish ram!

Then it's I'll tak' the low road, and he'll tak' the high
And I'll be in Ben Lomond afore he knows why!

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Long-Haired Intellectual

The question is, it seems to me, what is the question?
The 'proof of self's conjectural, I grant.
But if that raises philosophic problems
Just leave it all to Wittgenstein and Kant!
I really can't go all the way with Berkeley;
On the "other minds" conundrum, what's the fuss?
I'm inclined to give the benefit to Johnson,
Just kick the bloody gate - refute it thus!
No, I've always had a ruminating nature,
And a bit of dialectic does no harm;
An hour or two of problems of perception,
Keeps your mind from a-troph-y-ing on the farm.
At least they can't say I go round in blinkers,
But times is always hard for woolly thinkers.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Birth of the Muse

I don't suppose that girls and boys,
When made to learn their verses,
Are much inclined to turn their mind,
Between their moans and curses,
To how their rhymes, in ancient times,
Were first of all invented -
To while away the shepherds' day
Keeping lambs contented!

It was from us Theocritus
Learned his choryambics;
And we could scan, before a man,
Trochaics and iambics.
For dithyrambs are to us lambs,
What fishes are to water;
And to the ewes, a clerihue's
Just what her mother taught her.

So lambs at play become the way
The great Earth Mother chooses
To make the shepherd wish to sing
The music of The Muses.
And in our gay, eurhythmic way,
Although they may not know it,
We lambs began converting man
From shepherd into poet.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Super Grass

The life of the sheep, as the hoi polloi pass,
Seems a monochrome diet of pasture and grass;
But not to that bon-viveur Maitre des Prés,
Alphonse de Michelin Mouton-Cadet.

His delicate palate and sensitive nose
Were, among other gastronomes, quite autre chose;
And his Salade de Champignons aux Herbes Melées
With a touch of wild garlic, the Dish of the Day.

Food freaks in Denver were rumoured to be
Hooked on his Clover d'Alphonse Ratatouille;
Which, topped with his Compôte de Fruits de Campagne,
Won the Grand Prix d'Honneur, Cordon Bleu, de l'Espagne.

Alphonse owed his name and renowned savoir-faire
To his Norman descent; and bemoaned - c'est la guerre! -
How his Haute Cuisine lacked but a potable wine,
Since his ancestors opted for Hexham-on-Tyne.

His dandelion claret and elder-flower hock
Had a frisson de je-ne-sais-quoi, but the flock
Were a constant offence to this true oenophile,
Drinking Newcastle Brown with his Crème Camomile.

How he longed for that subtly intriguing bouquet
Of a mildly presumptious Reserve Cabernet;
Or that bit more attack on the palate which goes
With a Chateau Margaux's oh! so eloquent nose.

But Destiny called and Alphonse, de rigueur,
Joined the crème-de-la-crème of élite connoisseurs,
Where he's still judged the best - and it's richly deserved -
Suprème d'Agneau that the Ritz ever served.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

A Ram Too Far

Robbie MacGrimes was a sheep of his times,
Full of entrepreneurial bonhomie;
Gave up at two what most other rams do
For a hoof in the market economy.

A yuppie at three, a financial degree,
And an M.B.A. summa cum laude;
Owned a tanker or two, and unregistered crew,
With a wily old camel from Saudi.

Made a fortune at four with a kangaroo boar
Into lager and brewing down under;
Put it all into junk, bought a sizeable chunk
Of Manhattan with part of the plunder.

Was Sir Robbie at five, with a stake in a live
Satellite channel, but greedier
To be Lord Rob MacGrimes of the Guardian or Times,
Or some other respectable media.

Found it stuck in some throats to mix sheep with the goats
Of the peerage, invoking a writ on
The affront to the peace of ennobling the fleece
The Lord Chancellor's bottom should sit on.

The Establishment won, as it mainly has done,
With another sheep wiser if wearier;
Though a press report moots Robbie's still in cahouts
With some privatised bear in Siberia.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Lamb of God

One's often asked if it is true
That lambs are plagued with mothers, too,
Who make us teaze our fleece each day,
And tidy all our mess away;
Badger us with all we should
Or shouldn't do, to make us good.

The answer is, they're much the same.
A Mum's a Mum by any name!
Yet we, like you, forgive them all
At Christmas, when the snow-flakes fall
And, snuggling in our bed of straw,
She tells that Christmas tale, once more.

Of how the shepherds and the kings,
And angels on their silken wings,
And wisest men of all the earth,
Came to greet that special birth.

Then comes the bit that makes us glow,
Which human children rarely know;
How Jesus shivered in his sleep,
So Mary took the tiny sheep
And placed him there beside the boy -
His first companion and toy.

That is why my woolly fleece
Became the symbol of his peace,
And human boys and girls, like you,
Get Christmas toys and presents, too.
Not for the frankincense and gold,
But one poor lamb, when God was cold.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Tongue Tied

The human is inclined to preach
The merits of his mode of speech
Over those of us who choose
The languages of baas and moos;
And, ipso facto, is inclined
To think his quality of mind
Outshines all animals and birds,
By virtue of this use of words.

Yet, in so doing, he ignores
The message of his metaphors;
Which, you may notice, seldom find
Much inspiration from mankind.
Their writers, for the most part, feast
On nature, botany and beast,
Of which their literature is full,
Not people - infinitely dull.

Thus Wordsworth wanders like a cloud,
Or talks of daffodils aloud;
Budding poets tell their tales
In terms of larks or nightingales.
Not one would choose to waste his pen
On boring similes of men,
Nor find his inspiration tending
Towards metaphors of man ascending.

For all his elegance of phrase,
There's little that his language says
To rival how the blackbirds sing
Their perfect consonance of spring;
Nor how the waking robin gives,
Without recourse to adjectives,
Such evocation of the dawn,
In one short cadence on the lawn.

What animals and flowers hear
Defeats man's onomatopoea,
While pyramids of words conceal
Some lost capacity to feel.
For every new-born lamb well knows,
Without the benefits of prose,
That singing in creation's song
Needs feeling deeper than the tongue.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Cotswold Sheep

Guiting Power, Rissington, Burford and Swell
Are the dreamiest places this near side of Hell.
Richly and greenly their pastures unfold
By indolent streamlets to Stow-on-the-Wold.
On gravelly drive-ways by manicured lawns
Stand polished Mercedes and chauffeur-clean broughams
Idling discreetly for tweed-clad commuters.
The dispossessed yeomen are sounding their hooters
And revving their Hondas towards Bourton-on-Water
Or drowning their sorrows in Chipping and Slaughter.

But Cotswold men may sleep o' nights while Chancellor sits on wool,
Ten centuries of Cotswold sheep have kept their coffers full,
And sheep of lineage like ours maintain a due decorum,
Munching the languid years away in saecla saeculorum.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

It was inevitable that Bertie Ramsbottom's mission should eventually be recognised at the highest level. It was in complicity with the then Poet Laureate, Sir John Betjeman, who was ill at the time, that Bertie assumed the high office of Poet Oveate.

Poet Oveate

There's little reason to re-state
The duties of the Oveate,
By which, as Poet to the Queen,
I adumbrate the Royal scene,
And celebrate in verse and stanzas
The more important royal bonanzas.

And so it is by Royal decree
I munch the regal pastures free
And bear the honorific status
Of Keeper of the Monarch's Gaiters.

I am on call for royal weddings,
Betrothals and assorted beddings;
With, of course, appropriate rhyme
For what transpires in nine months time
In matters of poetic scan,
The sheep is father to the man.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Among Their Souvenirs

Sweat-shirts 'n' tea-cloths, egg-timers and toasters,
Trash-cans and letter-heads, tissues and posters;
Elegant china for under the bed,
Are part of the homage when Princes are wed.

His and Her images loom through our litter,
Stare through our tankards of half-finished bitter;
Lurk in the dregs of our coffee and tea,
Hide beneath every fish-finger and pea.

She in her diapers and perambulator,
He on balloons with an auto-inflator;
Charmingly smiling, they paper our walls,
And peep from the intimate depth of our smalls.

No matter how high our regard for their Graces,
It's hard not to stub a cigar in their faces;
Or avoid unintended affront to their poses
While striking a match on such eminent noses.

Salvers and goblets and carpets and coasters,
Anything goes for the merchants to roast us;
Nothing quite matches a Royal Celebration
For joyously boosting the Wealth of a Nation.

© Bertie Ramsbottom's
Book of Improbable Sheep

Poet Oveate...

Ralph Windle: UK Poet, Performance poet uk, Writer, Lecturer, Performer, Educator, Poet, Creator of Bertie Ramsbottom

In the Financial Times, Harvard Business Review, BBC Radio...

A talented and insightful uk poet and author of inspirational, motivational, humorous and downright funny business poetry and ballad poems about business, the arts and free thinking.