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Deer Poems

Table of Contents

  1. The White Footed Deer by William Cullen Bryant
  2. In the Forest by Oscar Wilde
  3. The Killed Deer by Hulda Fetzer
  4. A wounded deer leaps highest by Emily Dickinson
  5. Mule-Deer by Isaac McLellan

  1. The White Footed Deer

    by William Cullen Bryant

    It was a hundred years ago,
    When, by the woodland ways,
    The traveller saw the wild deer drink,
    Or crop the birchen sprays.

    Beneath a hill, whose rocky side
    O'erbrowed a grassy mead,
    And fenced a cottage from the wind,
    A deer was wont to feed.

    She only came when on the cliffs
    The evening moonlight lay,
    And no man knew the secret haunts
    In which she walked by day.

    White were her feet, her forehead showed
    A spot of silvery white,
    That seemed to glimmer like a star
    In autumn's hazy night.

    And here, when sang the whippoorwill,
    She cropped the sprouting leaves,
    And here her rustling steps were heard
    On still October eves.

    But when the broad midsummer moon
    Rose o'er that grassy lawn,
    Beside the silver-footed deer
    There grazed a spotted fawn.

    The cottage dame forbade her son
    To aim the rifle here;
    'It were a sin,' she said, 'to harm
    Or fright that friendly deer.

    'This spot has been my pleasant home
    Ten peaceful years and more;
    And ever, when the moonlight shines,
    She feeds before our door.

    'The red men say that here she walked
    A thousand moons ago;
    They never raise the war-whoop here,
    And never twang the bow.

    'I love to watch her as she feeds,
    And think that all is well
    While such a gentle creature haunts
    The place in which we dwell.'

    The youth obeyed, and sought for game
    In forests far away,
    Where, deep in silence and in moss,
    The ancient woodland lay.

    But once, in autumn's golden time,
    He ranged the wild in vain,
    Nor roused the pheasant nor the deer,
    And wandered home again.

    The crescent moon and crimson eve
    Shone with a mingling light;
    The deer, upon the grassy mead,
    Was feeding full in sight.

    He raised the rifle to his eye,
    And from the cliffs around
    A sudden echo, shrill and sharp,
    Gave back its deadly sound.

    Away into the neighbouring wood
    The startled creature flew,
    And crimson drops at morning lay
    Amid the glimmering dew.

    Next evening shone the waxing moon
    As sweetly as before;
    The deer upon the grassy mead
    Was seen again no more.

    But ere that crescent moon was old,
    By night the red men came,
    And burnt the cottage to the ground,
    And slew the youth and dame.

    Now woods have overgrown the mead,
    And hid the cliffs from sight;
    There shrieks the hovering hawk at noon,
    And prowls the fox at night.

  2. In the Forest

    by Oscar Wilde

    Out of the mid-wood’s twilight
    Into the meadow’s dawn,
    Ivory limbed and brown-eyed,
    Flashes my Faun!

    He skips through the copses singing,
    And his shadow dances along,
    And I know not which I should follow,
    Shadow or song!

    O Hunter, snare me his shadow!
    O Nightingale, catch me his strain!
    Else moonstruck with music and madness
    I track him in vain!

  3. The Killed Deer

    by Hulda Fetzer

    The deer in a woods a-bounding went;
    The hunter a bullet quickly spent;
    The deer fell dead,
    And the hunter said,
    "That bullet went straight as it was meant."

    There's a lot in this if you'll think it o'er,
    And the more you think it, the more and more;
    Had the bullet missed,
    And behind it hissed,
    The deer would be bounding as before.

  4. A wounded deer leaps highest

    by Emily Dickinson

    A wounded deer leaps highest,
    I've heard the hunter tell;
    'T is but the ecstasy of death,
    And then the brake is still.

    The smitten rock that gushes,
    The trampled steel that springs;
    A cheek is always redder
    Just where the hectic stings!

    Mirth is the mail of anguish,
    In which it cautions arm,
    Lest anybody spy the blood
    And "You're hurt" exclaim!

  5. Mule-Deer

    by Isaac McLellan

    Cariacus Macrotis

    In the long-vanish'd years, this continent,
    So vast extended from the sea to sea,
    Water'd by rivers of majestic course,
    Encrown'd with mountains of sublimity
    Shadow'd by forests of supreme extent,
    Inlaid with valleys rich with grasses green,
    The wild game fill'd the woods, the boundless plains,
    Their flocks, their herds enlivening each scene.
    But now from those old haunts they disappear,
    Though Indian shafts made little havoc there.
    Yet when the white-men settlers and the hunters came,
    Vast devastation thinn'd the wild game's lair.

    The herds of buffalo that rang'd the plains,
    The moose, the elk, the antelope, mule-deer,
    That brows'd the grass of prairies and the mounts,
    Hunted and slaughter'd, gradual disappear;
    So, too, the wild fowl and the birds of song
    No longer gather in such countless throng.

    The mule-deer roams a realm of vast areas,
    'Twixt Dakota, Nebraska and the Cascade Range,
    A deer of mountain heights and rough plateau.
    Yet haunt the pastures of the foot-hills low;
    Its favorite haunts are summits of the mounts,
    Where free from h arm a life secure is found,
    Seeking their timber shelter in the day,
    But at the eve, frequenting open ground,
    Feeding on herbage that luxuriant grows,
    Kept sweet and tender by the melting snows.

    In such retreats where wolves may ne'er molest,
    They, watchful, scrutinize the rocky scene,
    Though weak of sight their scent is most acute,
    Cautious forever of their foes' pursuit.
    He that would stalk them must in silence move,
    For their keen nostrils would a scent betray,
    Then quick to hear a faint sound would alarm,
    And swift in flight they vanish far away.
    Whistling, careering through the lonely woods,
    The female cries; the snortings of the male
    Give life and animation to the scene,
    Pleasing to hunters on the eager trail;
    And if fire-hunting in the glooms of night,
    He oftimes slays the stately stag and doe,
    For then attracted by lamp-blaze or torch,
    They fall an easy victim to the foe.

    Not oft in Far West are they chased by hounds,
    Due to the nature of their rocky home,
    Their way of dashing to the mountain peaks,
    Hiding in gulches where they safely roam,
    For there the scent is lost in stony ground,
    Defying the pursuit of baffled hound.
    'Tis best to hunt when early winter snows
    Force them to seek the foot-hills for their food,
    For then they fly not to the craggy steeps,
    Slow to forsake the coverts of the wood.