Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern American Poetry
Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern American Poetry.  1919.
William Rose Benét. 1886–
118. How to Catch Unicorns
ITS cloven hoofprint on the sand 
Will lead you—where? 
Into a phantasmagoric land— 
There all the bright streams run up-hill.         5
The birds on every tree are still. 
But from stocks and stones, clear voices come 
That should be dumb. 
If you have taken along a net, 
A noose, a prod,  10
You'll be waiting in the forest yet... 
In a virgin's lap the beast slept sound, 
They say ... but I— 
I think (Is anyone around?)  15
That's lust a lie! 
If you have taken a musketoon 
To flinders 'twill flash 'neath the wizard moon. 
So I should take browned batter-cake, 
Hot-buttered inside, like foam to flake.  20
And I should take an easy heart 
And a whimsical face, 
And a tied-up lunch of sandwich and tart, 
And spread a cloth in the open chase. 
And then I should pretend to snore...  25
And I'd hear a snort and I'd hear a roar, 
The wind of a mane and a tail, and four 
Wild hoofs prancing the forest-floor. 
And I'd open my eyes on a flashing horn— 
And see the Unicorn!  30
Paladins fierce and virgins sweet... 
But he's never had anything to eat! 
Knights have tramped in their iron-mong'ry... 
But nobody thought—that's all!—he's hungry! 

Really hungry! Good Lord deliver us,
The Unicorn is not carnivorous! 

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