Zoologist, media consultant, and science writer, Dr Karl Shuker is also one of the best known cryptozoologists in the world. He is the author of such seminal works as Mystery Cats of the World (1989), The Lost Ark: New and Rediscovered Animals of the 20th Century (1993; greatly expanded in 2012 as The Encyclopaedia of New and Rediscovered Animals), Dragons: A Natural History (1995), In Search of Prehistoric Survivors (1995), The Unexplained (1996), From Flying Toads To Snakes With Wings (1997), Mysteries of Planet Earth (1999), The Hidden Powers of Animals (2001), The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003), Extraordinary Animals Revisited (2007), Dr Shuker's Casebook (2008), Karl Shuker's Alien Zoo: From the Pages of Fortean Times (2010), Cats of Magic, Mythology, and Mystery (2012), Mirabilis: A Carnival of Cryptozoology and Unnatural History (2013), Dragons in Zoology, Cryptozoology, and Culture (2013), The Menagerie of Marvels (2014), A Manifestation of Monsters (2015), Here's Nessie! (2016), and what is widely considered to be his cryptozoological magnum opus, Still In Search Of Prehistoric Survivors (2016) - plus, very excitingly, his first two long-awaited, much-requested ShukerNature blog books (2019, 2020).

Dr Karl Shuker's Official Website - http://www.karlshuker.com/index.htm

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IMPORTANT: To view a complete, regularly-updated listing of my Starsteeds blog's poetry and other lyrical writings (each one instantly clickable), please click HERE!

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Tuesday, 3 November 2009


I'm happy to say that my poetry book, Star Steeds and Other Dreams, is now in print and can be purchased from Amazon, directly from its publisher CFZ Press, and by order via all good bookshops. Consequently, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Jon very sincerely for enabling this long-held hope of mine - to see my poetry published one day - to come true.

As my book contains some cryptozoologically-relevant poems, normally I would have included one here, to launch it. Reading through its contents, however, I was reminded that there was a far more relevant poem - bearing in mind that this forthcoming weekend sees Remembrance Sunday. Consequently, although this blog is typically devoted to mystery beasts and the like, I hope that you will forgive my deviating from the norm, just this once, in order to pay my respects to all of the brave men and women in England and elsewhere throughout the world during wartime who have sacrificed so much:

The symbolic association of the poppy with the remembrance of those who fought and fell during wartime is very potent, and is one that I sought to capture and honour in the following poem – my own tribute to those brave heroes who gave their lives so that we could live ours. May we never forget them, and the sacrifice that they made for all of us.


Far through the countryside’s languorous dreaming
Strolled I one morning in summertime past,
Wondering why this enrapturing vista
Couldn’t unchanging forever more last.

And as I gazed o’er its velvet-gowned valleys,
There lay a poppy field, burnished and bright;
Scarlet heads tossing on stems green and slender,
Swaying round ever to meet the sun’s light.

Crimson and fiery as dancing infernos,
Eyes filled with darkness like eveningtide’s shades,
Peering through petals emblazoned with ruby,
Outwards forever to sunlight displayed.

And as I stood there, their message came softly,
Brought by the zephyr on swift wings of Love;
For, as I listened, their spirits drew nearer,
Borne ’neath the cloudbanks of Heaven above.

E’en though they spoke without words, without voices,
Eyes sparkling brightly from tall fiery heads,
Theirs was a message more real, yet more distant,
Stranger than any before – for they said:

“We are the spirits of those who for Freedom
Gave up their lives in the struggle of War.
We are reborn in the world they created,
Shedding the tears and the ills that they bore.”

And as I watched them, their petals drooped downwards,
Burdened with dewdrops, each tender and clear,
Capturing memories borne through all ages,
Living again in each poppy-shed tear.

Theirs was a love more intense, more consuming,
Than could be ever disrupted by War;
Peace was their dream and their only ambition,
This was their goal – this is what they died for.

And as I left, still their beauty burnt brighter,
Bright as the sun scorching upwards and higher;
Ne’er would their courage and hope be forgotten,
Cherished fore’er in the poppies’ bright fire,

Burning fore’er in the hearts of all mankind
Living in peace after violence and War.
Freedom has come to this fair English country:
This was their dream – this is what they fought for.


  1. Great poem and great book, Karl!!! Looking forward to it.

    I have a question for you, BTW. And I'm glad I can ask it, believe you me...
    I just went through the latest Fortean Times and I must say I'd like to congratulate you on your latest offering to it---regarding the most unusual sightings in the UK. That was very informative, Sir!

    I'd like to know, though---
    The sighting in Feb 2001 in Wales of the Dragon???
    (My favorite one, BTW)
    Has the naturalist ever gone back to the mine/rock quarry for another look at the beastie??? Has the naturalist ever given any more information about that?
    I know I would have liked to have had SEVERAL looks!!!

    And another thing---
    The Horse with the "Human Head" seen by the correpondent's husband in 1994???
    I think you or somebody else called it a "Centaur."
    Hate to be a Stick-in-the-mud but is that really an accurate assesment of the creature???

    Centaurs have traditionally been portrayed as having human arms and torsos. This one (from the description given) did not have either. Wouldn't it be better to say this "thing" was a "Horse Creature," or "Horse Monster???"
    Like I said, I look forward to the book. Thanks a lot, Shuker!!!

  2. BTW, I meant "Paranormal" Magazine, not Fortean Times.
    Sorry. :)

  3. Hi there, Thanks for your kind words, and I'm very happy that you like m poem so much. Re my article: the one that you refer to was actually in Paranormal Magazine rather than Fortean Times, but no probs: re the Welsh dragon, no, the naturalist has not revisited the site as far as I am aware. Although I remain in contact with him, he has never referred to it again, but as I know the locality I may well pursue this myself next year when the weather and lighting conditions are more amenable. Like you, I prefer 'horse-man' to 'centaur' when describing the alleged man-headed equine entities - you are perfectly correct in pointing out that true centaurs combine the body and limbs of a horse with the head AND torso of a human, not just the head. Thanks again for your kind words and interest, and I hope that you enjoy my poetry book. All the best, Karl

  4. We must never forget that war takes only a single tyrant to start, but the blood of many innocents to end. Man has a lot to learn. Pacifism doesn't work, because tyrants don't fear it; it is the tyrants' friend. Only the 'sharpened plow-share' will deter the tyrant. 'Warriors die the same death; for Peace. Take up their banner.