San Simeon Zebras
This poem is about an animal that has been a part of a great zoo way back in the 1920’s. The zebra, along with some other wild animals like the American Bison, the Rocky Mountain elk, and the European white fallow deer, were a part of what could have been the largest zoo in the world. William Randolph Hearst established a collection of wild animals in a private zoo in his ranch at San Simeon (Carlson).
In this poem, it discusses how animals, not only the zebra were taken away from their native grounds. It is shown in the first and second statement, “Like many, they are out of place.” William Hearst was an avid collector of wild species, then putting them in his ranch. He is taking these creatures away from their natural homes in order to satisfy his wants.
These animals have been deprived of roaming free without any bounds. Even though they were in a large area like the Hearst ranch, they are still like captives, spirited away from their natural environment, in order to provide man’s pleasure. This is reflected in the latter parts of the poem in the lines, “What an invitation, that wire-slatted hillside…” and “Lost so completely, everyone is, in passing, interested.” If you look at it completely, it is a very sad statement that they have to endure being a captive, being barred to roam freely, in the confines of wire-laden land, so that they could please people, so that they could make them happy. It is against their will, but what can they do? This poem is truly an expression of the hardships and cruelty of poaching and catching. It is an eye-opener, saying that even animals have their rights to be free. To live, just like what we humans want and even fight for sometimes (“Hearst Castle”).
Carlson, Oliver. Hearst: Lord of San Simeon. New York: Viking Press, 1936.
“Hearst Castle”. 2004. California State Parks. <http://www.hearstcastle.com/history/zoo.asp>.