Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. V. Nature
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume V. Nature.  1904.
 
III. The Seasons
The Stag Hunt
Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832)
 
From “The Lady of the Lake,” Canto I.

THE STAG at eve had drunk his fill,
Where danced the moon on Monan’s rill,
And deep his midnight lair had made
In lone Glenartney’s hazel shade;
But, when the sun his beacon red        5
Had kindled on Benvoirlich’s head,
The deep-mouthed bloodhound’s heavy bay
Resounded up the rocky way,
And faint, from farther distance borne,
Were heard the clanging hoof and horn.        10
 
As Chief who hears his warder call,
“To arms! the foemen storm the wall,”
The antlered monarch of the waste
Sprung from his heathery couch in haste.
But, ere his fleet career he took,        15
The dew-drops from his flanks he shook;
Like crested leader proud and high
Tossed his beamed frontlet to the sky;
A moment gazed adown the dale,
A moment snuffed the tainted gale,        20
A moment listened to the cry,
That thickened as the chase drew nigh;
Then, as the headmost foes appeared,
With one brave bound the copse he cleared,
And, stretching forward free and far,        25
Sought the wild heaths of Uam-Var.
 
Yelled on the view the opening pack;
Rock, glen, and cavern paid them back;
To many a mingled sound at once
The awakened mountain gave response.        30
A hundred dogs bayed deep and strong,
Clattered a hundred steeds along,
Their peal the merry horns rung out,
A hundred voices joined the shout;
With hark and whoop and wild halloo,        35
No rest Benvoirlich’s echoes knew.
Far from the tumult fled the roe;
Close in her covert cowered the doe;
The falcon, from her cairn on high,
Cast on the rout a wondering eye,        40
Till far beyond her piercing ken
The hurricane had swept the glen.
Faint, and more faint, its failing din
Returned from cavern, cliff, and linn,
And silence settled, wide and still,        45
On the lone wood and mighty hill.
*        *        *        *        *
’T were long to tell what steeds gave o’er,
As swept the hunt through Cambus-more;
What reins were tightened in despair,
When rose Benledi’s ridge in air;        50
Who flagged upon Bochastle’s heath,
Who shunned to stem the flooded Teith,—
For twice that day, from shore to shore,
The gallant stag swam stoutly o’er.
Few were the stragglers, following far,        55
That reached the lake of Vennachar;
And when the Brigg of Turk was won,
The headmost horseman rode alone.
Alone, but with unbated zeal,
That horseman plied the scourge and steel;        60
For, jaded now, and spent with toil,
Embossed with foam, and dark with soil,
While every gasp with sobs he drew,
The laboring stag strained full in view.
Two dogs of black Saint Hubert’s breed,        65
Unmatched for courage, breath, and speed,
Fast on his flying traces came,
And all but won that desperate game;
For, scarce a spear’s length from his haunch,
Vindictive toiled the bloodhounds staunch;        70
Nor nearer might the dogs attain,
Nor farther might the quarry strain.
Thus up the margin of the lake,
Between the precipice and brake,
O’er stock and rock their race they take.        75
 
The hunter marked that mountain high,
The lone lake’s western boundary,
And deemed the stag must turn to bay,
Where that huge rampart barred the way;
Already glorying in the prize,        80
Measured his antlers with his eyes;
For the death-wound and death-halloo
Mustered his breath, his whinyard drew;
But thundering as he came prepared,
With ready arm and weapon bared,        85
The wily quarry shunned the shock,
And turned him from the opposing rock;
Then, dashing down a darksome glen,
Soon lost to hound and hunter’s ken,
In the deep Trosachs’ wildest nook        90
His solitary refuge took.
There while, close couched, the thicket shed
Cold dews and wild-flowers on his head,
He heard the baffled dogs in vain
Rave through the hollow pass amain,        95
Chiding the rocks that yelled again.
 
Close on the hounds the hunter came,
To cheer them on the vanished game;
But, stumbling in the rugged dell,
The gallant horse exhausted fell.        100
The impatient rider strove in vain
To rouse him with the spur and rein,
For the good steed, his labors o’er,
Stretched his stiff limbs, to rise no more;
Then, touched with pity and remorse,        105
He sorrowed o’er the expiring horse:
“I little thought, when first thy rein
I slacked upon the banks of Seine,
That Highland eagle e’er should feed
On thy fleet limbs, my matchless steed!        110
Woe worth the chase, woe worth the day,
That costs thy life, my gallant gray!”
 
Then through the dell his horn resounds,
From vain pursuit to call the hounds.
Back limped, with slow and crippled pace,        115
The sulky leaders of the chase;
Close to their master’s side they pressed,
With drooping tail and humbled crest;
But still the dingle’s hollow throat
Prolonged the swelling bugle-note.        120
The owlets started from their dream,
The eagles answered with their scream,
Round and around the sounds were cast,
Till echo seemed an answering blast;
And on the hunter hied his way,        125
To join some comrades of the day;
Yet often paused, so strange the road,
So wondrous were the scenes it showed.
 
 
CONTENTS · BOOK CONTENTS · BIBLIOGRAPHIC RECORD
  PREVIOUSNEXT  
 
Loading
Click here to shop the Bartleby Bookstore.

Shakespeare · Bible · Strunk · Anatomy · Nonfiction · Quotations · Reference · Fiction · Poetry
© 1993–2014 Bartleby.com · [Top 150] · Subjects · Titles · Authors