Stanza two

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And in the yard outside,/ oblivious hens picked their way about.

With stanza two the scene switches to the farmyard outside. Lochhead contrasts the monster in the dark that she can now see with a vulnerable world which is ignorant of the proximity of evil. The oblivious hens are small, female animals. They are unaware of the bull and what it stands for, as the child was until this moment). They can be seen as innocent, possibly even a bit stupid.

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The faint and rather festive tinkling
A photo of two hens on grass
The female hens in this poem are "oblivious" of the bull and what it stands for, as the child was.

There is an idea that there is a distance between the hens and the threat of the bull. Once Lochhead uses sensory imagery to denote the presence of the bull. This time it is its sound that can only be heard faintly. This links back to the friendly name “Bob”. The “festive tinkling” also sounds pleasant and fun.

The sound of its chain is described as festive which shows how unknowing the animals outside are about the monster in their midst. This also introduces religious symbolism. The “festive tinkling” could suggest altar bells used in a religious ceremony. "Festive" is associated with Christmas and the celebration of the birth of Christ. Behind the mellow stone refers to the resurrection when Christ rose from the tomb where he was lain out after death. The “hasp” suggests something small and weak – there is little to prevent the bull from escaping.

Black Mass has a double meaning, referring both to the undefined shape of the bull in the dim light of the stall and a ceremony at which the devil is worshipped. This is made clear by the use of capitals.

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I have always half-known he existed -/ this antidote and Anti-Christ

Lochhead suggest that this revelation has not come from nowhere. It is something that she was already, in some way aware of. The girl identifies this monster with all her youthful ideas of evil. For her, this animal is the physical incarnation of the devil. She repeats the prefix "anti" meaning opposite. Lochhead moves from the idea of Christ and Christmas to its opposite – the “anti-Christ”. This "monster" is opposite to all the good and ordered things in life.

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threatened the eggs, well rounded, self-contained - / and the placidity of milk

Lochhead returns to the eggs and milk. They are used as symbols of order and calm and contrasted with the disorder of evil represented by the bull – anarchy.

The eggs link to the “oblivious hens” and we get a sense of a link between the organised and calm and the female.

A photo of eggs and milk
Eggs and milk are used as symbols of order, calm and femininity.