December 15, 2013

BtGS Winner: A Heart Discarded, By Jude Tulli

"A Pastoral Scene," by John R. Weguelin (altered)

Editor's note: Jude Tulli, a real friend to Enchanted Conversation, has beautifully captured the idea that people can find true friendship with animals. You can find "The Dirty Shepherdess" in Beyond the Glass Slipper.

I must have been born on the new moon
Home's become a cratered darkness in my mind
And I find myself 
Some alien guide for sheep as prone to trouble 
As they are well-meaning

I know I cannot live without salt
It lines the riverbanks of tears
Across my brackish cheeks

It saturates my blood
Preserves a heart discarded

If Father came today with gifts and sorries
I wouldn't change my song a single note

My flock is my family now
Fancy dresses can't defend the lambs from wolves
And jewelry won't secure a rain to chase the drought

These sheep
They love with such wide eyes
And they need me 
With their itchy legs that long 
To run off cliffs

And they know
The value of salt
Jude Tulli has been published several times on Enchanted Conversation. He lives beneath the bright Milky Way night sky with his beloved wife Trish and a small pride of housecats. Also, you can find a fascinating tale by Jude called "Secret Goddess." The story appears in the new zine Timeless Tales.


  1. A beautiful way to capture the tale's idea of salt.

  2. This poem by Jude Tulli gives an interesting, and probably a more likely, view of the Dirty Shepherdess after her father turns her away for not professing her love for him in a more romanticized way. This point of view shows a very different side to the slighted princess than the original fairy tale, where the princess accepts the apology of her father, after he learns his lesson about the value of salt. The great part of this representation is the illustration of how the shepherdess feels about her sheep. These animals don’t judge her or take her for granted, because without her, they would be more likely slaughtered by wolves and other carnivorous creatures. She knows that even though the sheep are simple creatures, they understand her value, just as she understands the value of salt. I quite appreciate the fact that she says she wouldn’t forgive her father even if he showed up with all the riches and apologies in the world. It’s a bold and different perspective to an already interesting tale.
    Rachel B.

  3. Having read “The Dirty Shepherdess” for class, I can feel exactly where this poem is coming from. We see that the shepherdess feels alienated, living with the sheep, after being dismissed by her father, the king, for her response to his question “How much do you love me?” She compared her love for him to the salt in her food. The king, not taking time to understand her reply, sent her away. In this poem, the author gives insight into the shepherdess’s thoughts and feelings after being turned out and on her own. We see that she has accepted her life to be that of a shepherdess and that she is contented in doing so. The sheep love her and are accustomed to having her there, guiding them. I believe that she has gotten from the sheep a sense of belonging. While she feels alienated from other people, she seems to have found a new identity living with the sheep, and a fondness for their appreciation of her. Something she did not receive from her father.

  4. This is a sad poem from the Dirty Shepherdess. Reading this poem you cannot help but feel sad for the poor girl while at the same time feeling pride in her as well. I say sad because she was casted out by her father for being honest and telling him how much she loved him and not understanding the meaning. Then proud because although she was casted out and forced to be on her own she found a calling with the sheep she was herding and how much they needed her and she could give that love to them and they would not put her off or make her feel like she means nothing to them because a misunderstood comment like her father did. It almost sounds like she feels like she was born a black sheep and was meant to follow this path in order to find her way. A path away from her father, the castle, and her princess life. TG