The Hunting of the Hare

Betwixt two ridges of plowed land sat1 Wat,
Whose body, pressed to th’earth, lay close and squat.2
His nose upon his two fore-feet close lies,3
Glaring obliquely with his great grey eyes.4
His head he always sets5 against the wind;                            5
If turn his tail, his hairs blow up behind6
And make him to get cold, but he, being wise,7
Doth keep8 his coat still down, so warm he lies.
Thus rests he9 all the day till th’sun10 doth set;
Then up he riseth,11 his relief12 to get,                                    10
Walking about13 until the sun doth rise,
Then coming back in’s former posture lies.14
At last, poor Wat was found, as he there lay,
By huntsmen which came with their dogs that way,15
Whom seeing, he got up, and fast did run,16                         15
Hoping some ways the cruel dogs to shun.
But they by nature have17 so quick a scent,
That by their nose they traced18 what way he went,
And with their deep, wide mouths set forth a cry,
Which answered was by echoes19 in the sky.                        20
Then Wat was struck with terror and with fear,
Seeing each shadow, thought the dogs were there,20
And running out some distance from their cry,21
To hide himself his thoughts he did employ.22
Under a clod of earth in sand-pit wide                                    25
Poor Wat sat close, hoping himself to hide.
There long he had not been,23 but straight in’s24 ears
The winding horns and crying dogs he hears.
Then starting up25 with fear, he leap’d, and such26
Swift speed he made, the ground he scarce did touch.27    30
Into a great thick wood straight ways he got,28
And29 underneath a broken bough he sat,30
Where31 every leaf that with the wind did shake
Did bring32 such terror, that his heart did33 ache.
That place he left; to champaign plains he went,                 35
Winding about for to deceive their scent,
And while they snuffling were to find his track,
Poor Wat, being weary, his swift pace did slack.
On his two hinder legs for ease he sat;34
His fore-feet rubbed his face from dust and sweat.             40
Licking his feet, he wiped his ears so clean
That none could tell that Wat had hunted been.
But casting round about his fair grey35 eyes,
The hounds in full career he near him spies.
To Wat it was so terrible a sight                                               45
Fear gave him wings, and made his body light:
Though weary was36 before, by running long,
Yet now his breath he never felt more strong,
Like those that dying are, think health returns,
When ’tis but a faint blast, which life out burns,                  50
For spirits seek to guard the heart about,
Striving with Death, but Death doth quench them out.
The hounds37 so fast came on, and with such cry,38
That he no hopes had39 left, nor help could ’spy.40
With that, the winds did pity poor Wat’s case,                      55
And with their breath the scent blew from that41 place;
Then every42 nose was43 busily employed,
And every nostril was44 set open wide,
And every head did45 seek a several way
To find the46 grass or track where the scent47 lay.                60
For witty industry is never slack;48
’Tis like to witchcraft, and49 brings lost things back.
But50 though the wind had tied the scent up close,
A busy dog thrust in his snuffling nose
And drew it out, with it51 did foremost run;                          65
Then horns blew loud, for th’rest52 to follow on.
The great slow-hounds, their throats did set a base;
The fleet swift hounds, as tenors next in place;
The little beagles did53 a trebble sing,
And through the air their voices54 round did ring,55           70
Which made such56 consort as they ran along,
That, had they spoken words, ’t had been a song.57
The horns kept time; the men did58 shout for joy,
And seemed most valiant,59 poor Wat to60 destroy,
Spurring their horses to a full career,                                     75
Swam61 rivers deep, leaped62 ditches without fear,
Endangered63 life and limbs, so fast they’d64 ride,
Only to see how patiently Wat died.
At last65 the dogs so near his heels did get,
That they66 their sharp teeth in67 his breech did set.           80
Then tumbling down he fell,68 with weeping eyes
Gave69 up his ghost, and thus, poor Wat, he dies.
Men, hooping loud, such acclamations made70
As if the Devil they imprisoned had,71
When they did but72 a shiftless creature kill;                        85
To hunt there needs no valiant soldier’s skill.
But men do73 think that exercise and toil,
To keep their health, is best which makes most spoil,
Thinking that food and nourishment so good
Which doth proceed from others’74 flesh and blood.           90
When they do lions, wolves, bears, tigers see
To kill poor75 sheep, they say76 they cruel be,
But for themselves, all creatures think too few,
For luxury, wish God would make more77 new,
As if God did make78 creatures for man’s meat,                    95
To give79 them life and sense, for man to eat,
Or else for sport or recreation’s sake,
Destroy80 those lives that God saw good to81 make,
Making their stomachs graves, which full they fill
With murthered bodies, which82 in sport they kill.              100
Yet man doth think himself so gentle, mild,83
When of all creatures he’s most cruel, wild,84
And is so proud, thinks only he shall live,85
That God a godlike nature did him86 give,
And that all creatures for his sake alone                                 105
Were made,87 for him to tyrannize upon.

  1. sat] lay 1653
  2. Whose body, pressed to th’earth, lay close and squat.] Pressing his Body close to Earth lay squat. 1653
  3. close lies,] did lye, 1664; did lye; 1668
  4. Glaring obliquely with his great grey eyes.] With his gray Eyes he glared Obliquely; 1664; With his gray Eyes he glared Obliquely. 1668
  5. sets] set 1664, 1668
  6. If turn his tail, his hairs blow up behind] His Tail when turn’d, his Hair blew up behind, 1664; His Tail, when turn’d, his Hair blew up behind, 1668
  7. And make him to get cold, but he, being wise,] Which he too cold will grow, but he is wise, 1653; And made him to get Cold; but he being Wise, 1664, 1668
  8. Doth keep] And keepes 1653
  9. rests he] resting 1653
  10. till th’sun] till Sun 1653
  11. up he riseth,] riseth up, 1653
  12. relief] Reliefe for 1653
  13. Walking about] And walks about, 1664, 1668
  14. Then coming back in’s former posture lies.] Then back returnes, downe in his Forme he lyes. 1653
  15. which came with their dogs that way,] with their Dogs which came that way. 1653
  16. Whom seeing, he got up, and fast did run,] Seeing, gets up, and fast begins to run, 1653
  17. have] had 1664, 1668
  18. traced] trace 1653
  19. echoes] Echo 1664, 1668
  20. Seeing each shadow, thought the dogs were there,] Thinkes every Shadow still the Dogs they were. 1653
  21. their cry,] the noise, 1653
  22. did employ.] new imploies. 1653
  23. been,] sat, 1653
  24. in’s] his 1653
  25. Then starting up] Starting 1653
  26. he leap’d, and such] up leapes, then doth he run, 1653
  27. Swift speed he made, the ground he scarce did touch.] And with such speed, the Ground scarce treades upon. 1653
  28. straight ways he got,] he straight way gets, 1653
  29. And] Where 1653
  30. he sat,] he sits. 1653
  31. Where] At 1653
  32. Did bring] Brought him 1664, 1668
  33. that his heart did] made his Heart to 1653
  34. he sat;] did sit, 1653
  35. grey] great 1653
  36. weary was] he was Tyr’d 1664; he was tir’d 1668
  37. The hounds] Thus they 1653
  38. and with such cry,] with such loud Cries, 1653
  39. had] hath 1653
  40. could ’spy.] espies. 1653; could spy. 1668
  41. that] the 1653
  42. every] ev’ry 1668
  43. was] is 1653
  44. was] is 1653
  45. did] doth 1653
  46. the] what 1653
  47. where the scent] the Sent on 1653
  48. For witty industry is never slack;] Thus quick Industry that is not slack, 1653
  49. ’Tis like to witchcraft, and] Is like to Witchery, 1653
  50. But] For 1653
  51. it] that 1664, 1668
  52. for th’rest] the rest 1664, 1668
  53. did] they 1653
  54. voices] Voice a 1653
  55. ring,] ring? 1653
  56. such] a 1653
  57. That, had they spoken words, ’t had been a song.] If they but words could speak, might sing a Song, 1653
  58. men did] Hunters 1653
  59. seemed most valiant,] valiant seeme, 1653
  60. to] for to 1653
  61. Swam] Swim 1653
  62. leaped] leap 1653
  63. Endangered] Indanger 1653
  64. they’d] will 1653
  65. At last] For why, 1653
  66. That they] That 1664, 1668
  67. in] they in 1664, 1668
  68. he fell,] did fall 1653
  69. Gave] Gives 1653
  70. made] make 1653
  71. imprisoned had,] did Prisoner take. 1653
  72. did but] do but 1653; but did 1664
  73. men do] Man doth 1653
  74. Which doth proceed from others’] And Appetite, that feeds on 1653
  75. To kill poor] Kill silly 1664, 1668
  76. they say] strait say, 1653
  77. more] them 1653
  78. God did make] that God made 1653
  79. To give] And gave 1664, 1668
  80. Destroy] For to Destroy 1664, 1668
  81. saw good to] did 1664, 1668
  82. which] that 1653
  83. gentle, mild,] Gentle and Mild, 1664
  84. When of all creatures he’s most cruel, wild,] When he of Creatures is most cruell wild. 1653
  85. And is so proud, thinks only he shall live,] Nay, so Proud, that he only thinks to Live, 1664; Nay, so Proud, that he only thinks to live; 1668
  86. did him] him did 1664, 1668
  87. Were made,] Was made 1653