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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

William Roscoe Thayer (Paul Hermes) (1859–1923)

The Last Hunt

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,

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;

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

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.

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

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—

“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

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;

When suddenly the silence broke

With fifty bowstrings’ twang,

And hurtling through the drowsy air

Full fifty arrows sang.

Ah, better for those gentlemen

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:

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

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!

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

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;

Hang up the broken spear, and blow

A dirge upon the horn.