Hare-hunting

by William Somervile

William Somervile

Hark! from yon covert, where those tow'ring oaks
Above the humble copse aspiring rise,
What glorious triumphs burst in ev'ry gale
Upon our ravished ears! The hunters shout,
The clanging horns swell their sweet-winding notes,
The pack wide-op'ning load the trembling air
With various melody; from tree to tree
The propagated cry redoubling bounds,
And wingèd zephyrs waft the floating joy
Through all the regions near. Afflictive birch
No more the schoolboy dreads, his prison broke,
Scamp'ring he flies, nor heeds his master's call.
The weary traveller forgets his road,
And climbs th' adjacent hill; the ploughman leaves
Th' unfinished furrow; nor his bleating flocks
Are now the shepherd's joy; men, boys and girls
Desert th' unpeopled village; and wild crowds
Spread o'er the plain, by the sweet frenzy seized.
Look, how she pants! and o'er yon op'ning glade
Slips glancing by; while at the further end
The puzzling pack unravel wile by wile
Maze within maze. The covert's utmost bound
Slyly she skirts; behind them cautious creeps,
And, in that very track so lately stained
By all the steaming crowd, seems to pursue
The foes she flies. Let cavillers deny
That brutes have reason; sure 'tis something more,
'Tis heav'n directs, and stratagems inspires
Beyond the short extent of human thought.
But hold--I see her from the covert break:
Sad on yon little eminence she sits;
Intent she listens with one ear erect,
Pond'ring, and doubtful what new course to take,
And how t' escape the fierce bloodthirsty crew,
That still urge on, and still in volleys loud
Insult her woes, and mock her sore distress.
As now in louder peals the loaded winds
Bring on the gath'ring storm, her fears prevail;
And o'er the plain, and o'er the mountain's ridge,
Away she flies; nor ships with wind and tide,
And all their canvas wings, scud half so fast.
Once more, ye jovial train, your courage try,
And each clean courser's speed. We scour along,
In pleasing hurry and confusion tossed,
Oblivion to be wished. The patient pack
Hang on the scent unwearied, up they climb,
And ardent we pursue; our lab'ring steeds
We press, we gore; till once the summit gained,
Painfully panting, there we breathe awhile;
Then like a foaming torrent, pouring down
Precipitant, we smoke along the vale.





Last updated July 10, 2018