The British poet Vicki Feaver published "The Gun" in The Book of Blood, which came out in 2006. The poem's speaker is at first wary when her partner brings a hunting rifle home, believing that its ominous, dangerous presence "changes" the house. But once the speaker gets used to the gun, she revels in the new energy it gives her and her partner. As the pair shoot and eat animals, they experience the intoxicating allure of power: the gun has given them a gleeful mastery over death.
Bringing a gun ...
the grainy polished ...
... the green-checked cloth.
At first it’s ...
... through the head.
Soon the fridge ...
... fur and feathers.
There’s a spring ...
... stirring and tasting—
excited as if ...
... sprouting golden crocuses.
Select any word below to get its definition in the context of the poem. The words are listed in the order in which they appear in the poem.
Hear the Poem — Listen to Vicki Feaver read "The Gun" and briefly discuss the experience that inspired the poem.
More About Feaver — To learn a little more about Vicki Feaver, check out this short overview of her life and work (including several audio clips of her poems).
An Interview with Feaver — Check out this interview with Vicki Feaver, in which she discusses the themes of murder and sex in her poems (among other things).
Film of "The Gun" — A short cinematic interpretation of "The Gun" (content note: includes some shaky/flashing images).
1Bringing a gun into a house
3You lay it on the kitchen table,
4stretched out like something dead
5itself: the grainy polished wood stock
6jutting over the edge,
7the long metal barrel
8casting a grey shadow
9on the green-checked cloth.
10At first it’s just practice:
12dangling on orange string
13from trees in the garden.
14Then a rabbit shot
15clean through the head.
16Soon the fridge fills with creatures
17that have run and flown.
18Your hands reek of gun oil
19and entrails. You trample
20fur and feathers. There’s a spring
21in your step; your eyes gleam
22like when sex was fresh.
23A gun brings a house alive.
24I join in the cooking: jointing
25and slicing, stirring and tasting—
26excited as if the King of Death
27had arrived to feast, stalking
28out of winters woods,
29his black mouth
30sprouting golden crocuses.