Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VIII. National Spirit
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VIII. National Spirit.  1904.
 
III. War
The Last Hunt
William Roscoe Thayer (Paul Hermes) (1859–1923)
 
OH, it ’s twenty gallant gentlemen
  Rode out to hunt the deer,
With mirth upon the silver horn
  And gleam upon the spear;
They galloped through the meadow-grass,        5
  They sought the forest’s gloom,
And loudest rang Sir Morven’s laugh,
  And lightest tost his plume.
    There ’s no delight by day or night
      Like hunting in the morn;        10
    So busk ye, gallant gentlemen,
      And sound the silver horn!
 
They rode into the dark greenwood
  By ferny dell and glade,
And now and then upon their cloaks        15
  The yellow sunshine played;
They heard the timid forest-birds
  Break off amid their glee,
They saw the startled leveret,
  But not a stag did see.        20
    Wind, wind the horn, on summer morn!
      Though ne’er a buck appear,
    There ’s health for horse and gentleman
      A-hunting of the deer!
 
They panted up Ben Lomond’s side        25
  Where thick the leafage grew,
And when they bent the branches back
  The sunbeams darted through;
Sir Morven in his saddle turned,
  And to his comrades spake,        30
“Now quiet! we shall find a stag
  Beside the Brownies’ Lake.
    Then sound not on the bugle-horn,
      Bend bush and do not break,
    Lest ye should start the timid hart        35
      A-drinking at the lake.”
 
Now they have reached the Brownies’ Lake,—
  A blue eye in the wood,—
And on its brink a moment’s space
  All motionless they stood;        40
When, suddenly, the silence broke
  With fifty bowstrings’ twang,
And hurtling through the drowsy air
  Full fifty arrows sang.
    Ah, better for those gentlemen,        45
      Than horn and slender spear,
    Were morion and buckler true,
      A-hunting of the deer.
 
Not one of that brave company
  Shall hunt the deer again;        50
Some fell beside the Brownies’ Pool,
  Some dropt in dell or glen;
An arrow pierced Sir Morven’s breast,
  His horse plunged in the lake,
And swimming to the farther bank        55
  He left a bloody wake.
    Ah, what avails the silver horn,
      And what the slender spear?
    There ’s other quarry in the wood
      Beside the fallow deer!        60
 
O’er ridge and hollow sped the horse
  Besprent with blood and foam,
Nor slackened pace until at eve
  He brought his master home.
How tenderly the Lady Ruth        65
  The cruel dart withdrew!
“False Tirrell shot the bolt,” she said,
  “That my Sir Morven slew!”
    Deep in the forest lurks the foe,
      While gayly shines the morn:        70
    Hang up the broken spear, and blow
      A dirge upon the horn.
 
 
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