I know that the Loch Ness Monster is only a mythical being. Still, when my husband and I traveled through Scotland in 1972, we stayed in Inverness for a few days. We took a road trip down the western coast of the lake. Even when one knows the truth, it’s still fun to imagine that there might be a family of prehistoric creatures that dwell in that long, deep lake.
I wrote the following poem about the Loch Ness monster several years ago for my unpublished collection Docile Fossil.
What is living in Loch Ness…
This ancient animal of lore?
A sinuous serpent?
A giant humped creature?
A prehistoric plesiosaur?
Is this fabled monster really
Lurking in the murky lake
Gliding through its chilly waters
Leaving legend in its wake?
By Benjamin Radford
Some say it's a myth; others say it's a living dinosaur or even a sea serpent that swam into the lake before it became landlocked. Whether real or fictional, it is what Scotland is best known for around the world (aside from whiskey, bagpipes and kilts).
Some claim that the Loch Ness monster was first reported in A.D. 565, when — according to Catholic legend — St. Columba turned away a giant beast that was threatening a man in the Ness River, which flows into the lake. However tempting it is to suggest that the encounter was a true historical record of the beast's existence, it is only one of many church myths about righteous saints vanquishing Satan in the form of serpents and dragons.
In fact, there are no reports of the beast until less than a century ago. The Loch Ness monster first achieved notoriety in 1933 after a story was published in "The Inverness Courier," a local newspaper, describing not a monstrous head or hump but instead a splashing in the water that was described as appearing to be caused "by two ducks fighting." Some suggested a more monstrous explanation; however it wasn't until the following year that Nessie shot to superstardom with the publication of a famous photograph showing a serpentine head and neck. That image, taken by a London surgeon named Kenneth Wilson, was touted for decades as the best evidence for Nessie — until it was admitted as a hoax decades later.
My book giveaway for the third week of National Poetry Month (April 14-20) will be COWBOYS—with poems by David L. Harrisonand illustrations by Dan Burr. NOTE: I’ll announce the winner of COWBOYS on Sunday, April 21st.