Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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Here you will find reviews of, selections from, and commentaries concerning books, many of which don't even appear on Amazon's radar. But what goldmines for the literate foxhunter!

The Fox Meditates

rudyard kiplingIt’s been eye-opening to discover the many celebrated authors of classical literarature—like Rudyard Kipling—who have produced foxhunting poetry. In addition to those poets known for their sporting literature and published in these pages, Foxhunting Life readers have enjoyed the foxhunting poems of Sir Arthur Conant Doyle, William Shakespeare, Dylan Thomas, and William Butler Yeats.

What follows is a brief history of foxhunting in seven stanzas, written in the fox’s voice by Rudyard Kipling.

 

 When Samson set my brush afire
To spoil the Timnites barley,
I made my point for Leicestershire
And left Philistia early.
Through Gath and Rankesborough Gorse I fled,
And took the Coplow Road, sir!
And was a Gentleman in Red
When all the Quorn wore woad, sir!

When Rome lay massed on Hadrian's Wall,
And nothing much was doing,
Her bored Centurions heard my call
O' nights when I went wooing.
They raised a pack-they ran it well
(For I was there to run 'em)
From Aesica to Carter Fell,
And down North Tyne to Hunnum.

The Thaw

the thaw1.lionel edwards"By the road where the ditches are ready to run!"  /   Lionel Edwards illustrationHark to the avalanche snow from the roofs
   O’er eaves where the icicles melt in the sun!
Hark to the musical suck of the hoofs
   By the road where the ditches are ready to run!
On the slope of the hill is a patchwork of green
    And the fallows are spotted with spaces of brown,
While woodlands and copses and hedges between
    Have lost the white burden that weighted them down.

’Ware Holes

ware holesA sportin’ death! My word, it was!
An’ taken in a sportin’ way.
Mind you, I wasn’t there to see;
I only tell you what they say.

They found that day at Shillinglee,
An' ran 'im down to Chillinghurst;
The fox was goin' straight an' free
For ninety minutes at a burst.

They 'ad a check at Ebernoe
An' made a cast across the Down,
Until they got a view 'ullo
An' chased 'im up to Kirdford town.

Hard-Riding Dick

Rowland warburton smallThe author of this rather obscure poem was born in England in 1804. A landowner and nephew to the local baronet, he was known as the poet laureate of the Taporly Hunt, and indeed of the County of Cheshire. This hunting song, which coaxes the reader into a galloping rhythm, was selected by A. Henry Higginson, MFH, for inclusion in his 1930 collection, "As Hounds Ran." It’s a stirring hunting poem and a fine ode to a whipper-in. (My favorite stanza is Number IX.)

 

I
From the cradle his name has been ‘Hard-riding Dick,’
Since the time when cock-horse he bestraddled a stick;
Since the time when, un-breech’d, without saddle or rein,
He kick’d the old jackass along the green lane.

II
Dick, wasting no time o’er the classical page,
Spent his youth in the stable without any wage;
The life of poor Dick, when he enter’d his teens,
Was to sleep in the hayloft and breakfast on beans.