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Hunting Poems

Table of Contents

  1. Alexander Hunter by Mart Taylor
  2. The Hunter of the Prairies by William Cullen Bryant
  3. The Bear Hunt by Abraham Lincoln
  4. Hunting-Song by Richard Hovey
  5. Hunting Song by Sir Walter Scott
  6. A wounded deer leaps highest by Emily Dickinson
  7. My Hunting Song by Charles Kingsley
  8. Canvas-Back and Red-Heads by Isaac McLellan
  9. Rocky Mountain Goat by Isaac McLellan
  10. The Wild Turkey by Isaac McLellan
  11. Hunting the Grizzly Bear by Isaac McLellan

  1. Alexander Hunter

    And, strange although the fact may seem,
    I've often heard it said
    A. Hunter just from meat alone
    Can make his daily bread.

    - Mart Taylor
    Alexander Hunter
    by Mart Taylor

    A. Hunter is my hero's name,
    And occupation too:
    To hunt the country o'er for game
    Is all he aims to do;
    And yet A. Hunter comes to town
    Quite often, through the year,
    Upon no earthly business save
    To meat the people here.

    The epicures about the place
    On rare-bits love to fare;
    And with young rabbits Hunter can
    Just suit them to a hare.
    His venison, he says, is cheap—
    It may be—but I fear
    However much it tastes like sheep
    We must admit 'tis deer.

    When Hunter takes a deadly aim,
    He's never known to fail:
    Though woodcocks are afraid of him,
    He cannot make them "quail."
    When Hunter has his powder dry,
    And rifle all in trim,
    To charge upon a flock of geese,
    They say is "ducks for him."

    Those well acquainted with the man
    Upon their word declare
    There's mischief bruin when he gets
    His eyes upon a bear;
    And, strange although the fact may seem,
    I've often heard it said
    A. Hunter just from meat alone
    Can make his daily bread.

    At hunting, Hunter has success—
    But wherein does it lie?
    Well, I have heard some people guess
    That it is "in his eye;"
    Some lay it to his use of arms—
    And others, as I'm born,
    Urge that he "keeps his powder dry"—
    While some say "in a horn."

    Now I have but a word to say—
    Which is, that I have found
    That all the game which Hunter kills
    Receives a mortal wound.
    Long may he live—and early win
    A fortune and a fame;
    And when his game of life is o'er,
    May death find Hunter game.

  2. The Hunter of the Prairies

    by William Cullen Bryant

    Ay, this is freedom!—these pure skies
    Were never stained with village smoke:
    The fragrant wind, that through them flies,
    Is breathed from wastes by plough unbroke.
    Here, with my rifle and my steed,
    And her who left the world for me,
    I plant me, where the red deer feed
    In the green desert—and am free.

    For here the fair savannas know
    No barriers in the bloomy grass;
    Wherever breeze of heaven may blow,
    Or beam of heaven may glance, I pass.
    In pastures, measureless as air,
    The bison is my noble game;
    The bounding elk, whose antlers tear
    The branches, falls before my aim.

    Mine are the river-fowl that scream
    From the long stripe of waving sedge;
    The bear, that marks my weapon's gleam,
    Hides vainly in the forest's edge;
    In vain the she-wolf stands at bay;
    The brinded catamount, that lies
    High in the boughs to watch his prey,
    Even in the act of springing, dies.

    With what free growth the elm and plane
    Fling their huge arms across my way,
    Gray, old, and cumbered with a train
    Of vines, as huge, and old, and gray!
    Free stray the lucid streams, and find
    No taint in these fresh lawns and shades;
    Free spring the flowers that scent the wind
    Where never scythe has swept the glades.

    Alone the Fire, when frostwinds sere
    The heavy herbage of the ground,
    Gathers his annual harvest here,
    With roaring like the battle's sound,
    And hurrying flames that sweep the plain,
    And smoke-streams gushing up the sky:
    I meet the flames with flames again,
    And at my door they cower and die.

    Here, from dim woods, the aged past
    Speaks solemnly; and I behold
    The boundless future in the vast
    And lonely river, seaward rolled.
    Who feeds its founts with rain and dew?
    Who moves, I ask, its gliding mass,
    And trains the bordering vines, whose blue
    Bright clusters tempt me as I pass?

    Broad are these streams—my steed obeys,
    Plunges, and bears me through the tide.
    Wide are these woods—I thread the maze
    Of giant stems, nor ask a guide.
    I hunt, till day's last glimmer dies
    O'er woody vale and grassy height;
    And kind the voice and glad the eyes,
    That welcome my return at night.

  3. The Bear Hunt

    Conceited whelp! We laugh at thee—
    Nor mind, that now a few Of pompous, two-legged dogs there be, Conceited quite as you.

    – Abraham Lincoln
    The Bear Hunt
    by Abraham Lincoln

    A wild-bear chace, didst never see?
    Then hast thou lived in vain.
    Thy richest bump of glorious glee,
    Lies desert in thy brain.

    When first my father settled here,
    ’Twas then the frontier line:
    The panther’s scream, filled night with fear
    And bears preyed on the swine.

    But woe for Bruin’s short lived fun,
    When rose the squealing cry;
    Now man and horse, with dog and gun,
    For vengeance, at him fly.

    A sound of danger strikes his ear;
    He gives the breeze a snuff;
    Away he bounds, with little fear,
    And seeks the tangled rough.

    On press his foes, and reach the ground,
    Where’s left his half munched meal;
    The dogs, in circles, scent around,
    And find his fresh made trail.

    With instant cry, away they dash,
    And men as fast pursue;
    O’er logs they leap, through water splash,
    And shout the brisk halloo.

    Now to elude the eager pack,
    Bear shuns the open ground;
    Through matted vines, he shapes his track
    And runs it, round and round.

    The tall fleet cur, with deep-mouthed voice,
    Now speeds him, as the wind;
    While half-grown pup, and short-legged fice,
    Are yelping far behind.

    And fresh recruits are dropping in
    To join the merry corps:
    With yelp and yell,—a mingled din—
    The woods are in a roar.

    And round, and round the chace now goes,
    The world’s alive with fun;
    Nick Carter’s horse, his rider throws,
    And more, Hill drops his gun.

    Now sorely pressed, bear glances back,
    And lolls his tired tongue;
    When as, to force him from his track,
    An ambush on him sprung.

    Across the glade he sweeps for flight,
    And fully is in view.
    The dogs, new-fired, by the sight,
    Their cry, and speed, renew.

    The foremost ones, now reach his rear,
    He turns, they dash away;
    And circling now, the wrathful bear,
    They have him full at bay.

    At top of speed, the horse-men come,
    All screaming in a row,
    “Whoop! Take him Tiger. Seize him Drum.”
    Bang,—bang—the rifles go.

    And furious now, the dogs he tears,
    And crushes in his ire,
    Wheels right and left, and upward rears,
    With eyes of burning fire.

    But leaden death is at his heart,
    Vain all the strength he plies.
    And, spouting blood from every part,
    He reels, and sinks, and dies.

    And now a dinsome clamor rose,
    ’Bout who should have his skin;
    Who first draws blood, each hunter knows,
    This prize must always win.

    But who did this, and how to trace
    What’s true from what’s a lie,
    Like lawyers, in a murder case
    They stoutly argufy.

    Aforesaid fice, of blustering mood,
    Behind, and quite forgot,
    Just now emerging from the wood,
    Arrives upon the spot.

    With grinning teeth, and up-turned hair—
    Brim full of spunk and wrath,
    He growls, and seizes on dead bear,
    And shakes for life and death.

    And swells as if his skin would tear,
    And growls and shakes again;
    And swears, as plain as dog can swear,
    That he has won the skin.

    Conceited whelp! we laugh at thee—
    Nor mind, that now a few
    Of pompous, two-legged dogs there be,
    Conceited quite as you.

  4. Hunting-Song

    by Richard Hovey. From "King Arthur."

    Oh, who would stay indoor, indoor,
    When the horn is on the hill? (Bugle: Tarantara!)
    With the crisp air stinging, and the huntsmen singing,
    And a ten-tined buck to kill!

    Before the sun goes down, goes down,
    We shall slay the buck of ten; (Bugle: Tarantara!)
    And the priest shall say benison, and we shall ha'e venison,
    When we come home again.

    Let him that loves his ease, his ease,
    Keep close and house him fair; (Bugle: Tarantara!)
    He'll still be a stranger to the merry thrill of danger
    And the joy of the open air.

    But he that loves the hills, the hills,
    Let him come out to-day! (Bugle: Tarantara!)
    For the horses are neighing, and the hounds are baying,
    And the hunt's up, and away!

  5. Hunting Song.

    by Sir Walter Scott

    Waken, lords and ladies gay,
    On the mountain dawns the day;
    All the jolly chase is here
    With hawk and horse and hunting-spear;
    Hounds are in their couples yelling,
    Hawks are whistling, horns are knelling,
    Merrily merrily mingle they,
    ‘Waken, lords and ladies gay.’

    Waken, lords and ladies gay,
    The mist has left the mountain gray,
    Springlets in the dawn are steaming,
    Diamonds on the brake are gleaming;
    And foresters have busy been
    To track the buck in thicket green;
    Now we come to chant our lay
    ‘Waken, lords and ladies gay.’

    ‘Waken, lords and ladies gay,
    To the greenwood haste away;
    We can show you where he lies,
    Fleet of foot and tall of size;
    We can show the marks he made
    When ’gainst the oak his antlers fray’d;
    You shall see him brought to bay;
    ‘Waken, lords and ladies gay.’

    Louder, louder chant the lay,
    Waken, lords and ladies gay!
    Tell them youth and mirth and glee
    Run a course as well as we;
    Time, stern huntsman! who can baulk,
    Stanch as hound and fleet as hawk;
    Think of this, and rise with day
    Gentle lords and ladies gay!

  6. 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!

  7. My Hunting Song

    by Charles Kingsley

    Forward! Hark forward's the cry!
    One more fence and we're out on the open,
    So to us at once, if you want to live near us!
    Hark to them, ride to them, beauties! as on they go,
    Leaping and sweeping away in the vale below!
    Cowards and bunglers, whose heart or whose eye is slow,
    Find themselves staring alone.

    So the great cause flashes by;
    Nearer and clearer its purposes open,
    While louder and prouder the world-echoes cheer us:
    Gentlemen sportsmen, you ought to live up to us,
    Lead us, and lift us, and hallo our game to us-
    We cannot call the hounds off, and no shame to us-
    Don't be left staring alone!

  8. Canvas-Back and Red-Heads

    by Isaac McLellan

    Canvas-back (Anas valisiteriana). Red-head—Pochard (Anas ferina).

    In sharp November, from afar,
    From Northern river, stream, and lake,
    The flocks of noble canvas-back
    Their migratory journeys make;
    The frosty morning finds them spread
    Along the flats of Barnegat,
    Where grows the Valisneria root,
    The duck-grass with its russet thread;
    But chief where Chesapeake receives
    From Susquehanna brackish tides.
    By calm Potomac and the James,
    Feeding at will from morn till eve,
    'Mid those aquatic pastures green,
    The ribbon'd grass and bulbous root,
    Where slant the reedy edges lean.

    By thousands there the wild-fowl come
    To taste the rich, delicious fare:
    The red-head and the canvas-back,
    The widgeon, with his plumage rare;
    The ruddy duck, the buffel-head,
    The broad-bill and Canadian goose,
    Loving o'er placid shoal or cove
    Their flapping pinions to unloose.
    Through all the day, dispers'd around,
    They swim and circle o'er the bay;
    At eve, in congregated flocks,
    To months of creeks they take their way;
    While some a wakeful vigil keep,
    Others at anchor float asleep.

    When winter early sharp sets in,
    And frozen is the river's face,
    To its salt confluence with the bay
    The flocks seek out their feeding-place.
    And where across the ice a pool
    Of open water they discern,
    The hungry flocks their flight suspend
    And toward the friendly pasture turn;
    And there the lurking gunner waits
    (Amid the ice-blocks hid from sight),
    With heavy gun and deadly aim
    To thin the numbers that alight.

  9. Rocky Mountain Goat

    by Isaac McLellan

    On Rocky Mountain cliff and ridge,
    Along the shelving Western slopes,
    Or in green valleys at their base,
    Where range the graceful antelopes,
    The wild goat gallops o'er the space,
    Cropping the juicy grass at will,
    Or tasting the cold mountain rill.

    So wild and wary, fleet of foot
    Surpassing speed of hound or horse,
    That scarce the skill and arms of man
    Avail to check their headlong course.
    Where the Columbia River turns
    Its North Fork, near the water's head,
    Their gather'd numbers love to graze,
    Far over the gray summits spread.
    And ofttimes to that solitude
    Come trapper and frontiersmen rude;
    And then for days the cliffs resound
    With gun-report and hunters' cheer,
    The baying of the eager hound,
    The gallop down recesses drear.
    There, then, o'er granite ridge and peak,
    O'er gorge and gulch and mossy rock,
    The hunters clamber, climb, and cling,
    Pursuing the wild mountain flock,
    And at the day-close, spent with toil,
    Return o'erladen with the spoil.

  10. The Wild Turkey

    by Isaac McLellan

    These noble birds that did abound
    Innumerous over Northern ground―
    Victims so oft to northern sport―
    Now seek in southern realms resort;
    In Mexico, in Texas State,
    Their numbers are supremely great.
    Where strutting, gobbling flocks are seen,
    Most frequent in the forests green,
    And there oft thunder-like are heard,
    The flappings of the turkey bird.

    Seek them where gloomy shadows fall
    Beneath the woodland dim and tall;
    In the dense alder-brakes, or where
    The dark pines lift their spears in air,
    Where slow or winding rivulet creeps,
    Or swift thro' bushy ravine sweeps.
    Hid in tall grass that spreads around,
    Your call deceptive, faintly sound,
    And soon you hear each answering note,
    From the embowering thickets float;
    Soon will perceive the cautious game
    Step forth―then steady be your aim.

    A hunter, ere the dawning day,
    Flushes with blaze the forest's way,
    Selects his ambush near a wood,
    Where roosting, rest the noble brood.
    'Tis lovely morn of early spring,
    That gilds the earth with blossoming;
    The violets and daisies white,
    Enamel earth with colorings bright,
    The red-buds with their pinkish spray,
    Entwine the trees with garlands gay;
    The humid air holds odors still,
    Of wild-plum blooms o'er plain and hill,
    While snowy dogwood blossoms cling
    To branch, the bridal-wreaths of Spring.
    Then all the wood-bowers teem with life,
    With wild-wood melodies, are rife,
    Then sudden from a dense tree top,
    On dashing wing the turkeys drop,
    Skim in wide circles down the air,
    Then sink to earth the feast to share,
    While qu1ck the fowler's shot is heard
    And bleeding, struggling dies the bird.

  11. Hunting the Grizzly Bear

    by Isaac McLellan

    Ursus Horibilis―the grizzly bear
    Hath range from Mexico to Canadian realm,
    From Rocky Mountains to Pacific seas,
    And ever will the mightiest foe o'erwhelm.

    Whether in forest or on granite height
    The conflict rages, the relentless fight,
    In size, in strength, ferocity supreme,
    It is the monarch of all animal life;
    E'en man himself oft yieldeth to its sway,
    Shrinks from encounter in the fearful strife.
    Men claim the lion as the desert's king,
    Yet the great grizzly is the lion's peer,
    For grizzly, wounded, would its foe pursue,
    But leo hurt would pause in its career.
    He is the bear of mountain fastnesses,
    As the black bear has home in wood and plain,
    Yet oft the grizzly roams where food is found,
    Whether on shrubby plain, or wood-domain.
    'Tis denizen of all States in farthest West,
    It slays the bison by Montana's founts,
    Its muffled roar disturbs Nevada's wilds,
    Its sway prevails o'er the Wind-River mounts,
    Its home is made 'mid craggy cliffs and peaks,
    Where Mountain-goat and Big-horn sheep abide,
    And there in dark ravine and canyon grim
    They prowl they ravage, with their mighty stride.
    The eagle and the vulture wheel above,
    But no life else their domains may invade,
    Save when at times the daring hunter comes
    With deadly rifle and the bowie-blade.
    No fear of mortal art, or human power,
    Hath this grand monster in his wild retreat,
    For arm'd with fangs and claws like sabre keen,
    He dreads no valorous assaults to meet.
    Its taloned paw, its massive jaw will rend
    The lordly bison at one trenchant blow;
    And the swart Indian, with his shaft and spear,
    Shrinks from the presence of such dangerous foe,
    And yet no prouder trophy he may wear
    Than necklace of the claws of grizzly bear.
    In winter's frozen time it hibernates,
    Yet then, at times, he roams the waste for food,
    Then wild with hunger, desperate in rage
    'Tis death to meet him in his savage mood;
    For then with hoarse and drum-like roar he strides,
    With voice like giants of a fairy tale
    He makes the charge, and woe betide the man,
    Save for escape some tall tree may avail;
    For the grand brute, with courage so sublime,
    May ne'er with clumsy limbs the branches climb!