Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. III. Addison to Blake
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. III. The Eighteenth Century: Addison to Blake
 
Extract from The Chase, Book II
By William Somerville (1675–1742)
 
  HERE on this verdant spot, where Nature kind,
With double blessings crowns the farmer’s hopes;
Where flowers autumnal spring, and the rank mead
Affords the wand’ring hares a rich repast;
Throw off thy ready pack. See, where they spread        5
And range around, and dash the glitt’ring dew.
If some staunch hound, with his authentic voice,
Avow the recent trail, the justling tribe
Attend his call, then with one mutual cry,
The welcome news confirm, and echoing hills        10
Repeat the pleasing tale. See how they thread
The brakes, and up yon furrow drive along!
But quick they back recoil, and wisely check
Their eager haste; then o’er the fallowed ground
How leisurely they work, and many a pause        15
Th’ harmonious concert breaks; till more assured
With joy redoubled the low valleys ring.
What artful labyrinths perplex their way!
Ah! there she lies; how close! she pants, she doubts
If now she lives; she trembles as she sits,        20
With horror seized. The withered grass that clings
Around her head, of the same russet hue
Almost deceived my sight, had not her eyes
With life full-beaming her vain wiles betrayed.
At distance draw thy pack, let all be hushed,        25
No clamour loud, no frantic joy be heard,
Lest the wild hound run gadding o’er the plain
Untractable, nor hear thy chiding voice.
Now gently put her off; see how direct
To her known Muse she flies! Here, huntsman, bring        30
(But without hurry) all thy jolly hounds,
And calmly lay them in. How low they stoop,
And seem to plough the ground! then all at once
With greedy nostrils snuff the fuming steam
That glads their flutt’ring hearts. As winds let loose        35
From the dark caverns of the blustering God,
They burst away, and sweep the dewy lawn.
Hope gives them wings while she ’s spurred on by fear.
The welkin rings, men, dogs, hills, rocks, and woods
In the full concert join. Now, my brave youths,        40
Stripped for the chace, give all your souls to joy!
See how their coursers, than the mountain roe
More fleet, the verdant carpet skim, thick clouds
Snorting they breathe, their shining hoofs scarce print
The grass unbruised; with emulation fired        45
They strain to lead the field, top the barred gate,
O’er the deep ditch exulting bound, and brush
The thorny-twining hedge; the riders bend
O’er their arched necks; with steady hands, by turns
Indulge their speed, or moderate their rage.        50
Where are their sorrows, disappointments, wrongs,
Vexations, sickness, cares? All, all are gone,
And with the panting winds lag far behind.
 
 
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