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The First Last Unicorn (A Poem)

By Joyce Jacobo

[Author’s Note: Dedicated to Peter S. Beagle. This poem is based on an account I heard of his writing process for The Last Unicorn, which is a shining example of the different turns a story can take on the road to its completion.]

A lesson known very well

    by Peter S. Beagle

is how much work from a writer

    can go unused

like pieces of stitched cloth

    laid aside for other projects

I heard that he began to pen a fantasy

    and wrote more than 40 pages

of a narrative that concerned a unicorn

    in the contemporary world

She was indeed on a quest

    but among a land of highways and cities

                    and even dragon police officers

It was a great deal of effort to take

                                   but regardless

      the whole thing

         seemed to fall apart

                             into a jumble

     that Beagle struggled to straighten

At least until he realized that this mess

       had sparked a whole tangle of ideas

There were characters he wanted to explore

       and themes that had occurred to him

So Beagle restarted the journey of the unicorn

     located in a fantasy world he had crafted

in which a unicorn searched for her people

      and encountered a fiery red bull

Without the fragmented draft

      that Beagle had written before

Another beautiful story

      may have gone unborn


4 thoughts on “The First Last Unicorn (A Poem)

    1. One thing that is nice about first drafts is that while you may not use all the ideas in them, they can actually offer ideas for other works in the future. It’s amazing what twists and turns stories can take.

      Liked by 1 person

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