The Last Tally-Ho!
The Last Tally-Ho!
In the depths of the woods, where Nature still holds sway
A single hole is dug into a mossy bank
Here and there are scattered the remains of some small prey
The earth is scratched and furrowed, the air dank
A gentle breeze lifts a leaf, sends it spinning free
It pirouettes unhindered through the clearing
Deep in the den a vixen shifts, her ears raise suddenly
Something strident, harsh, invasive meets her hearing
All at once, her cosy den’s become a death-trap
What kept her safe and warm now makes her weak
She sniffs the air; she escapes through the gap
Then she melts between the trees, silent and sleek
She streaks, lightning fast, across the meadow
Her heartbeat racing in her fragile, hollow chest
She bolts like muted thunder through the hollow
Exhausted, yet not daring once to rest
There is something strange and wicked hard upon her
She doesn’t have the time to stop and look
But some multi-headed monster barrels behind her
Crashing, loud, brash and destructive ‘cross the brook
It hammers down the hedge she simply slipped through
Where her nimble paws set down, it churns the earth
Where she passes, lightly as the wind blew
The Hunt ruptures, rips and ruins for all its worth
She squirms her way into a mess of bramble
Comes out clear the other side, her fur all torn
But there are hounds up close, all a-scramble
There are cries of men, the braying of a horn
She races on, her instinct to outrun them
Braver, finer than their simple lust for death
Then, at once, the hunt recedes; at last she’s lost them
She finds a place, dark and hidden, to catch her breath
Beaten, The Hunt trails back to their beginning
Blood-red jackets stark against the innocent sky
Bemoaning their day’s losses, hounds panting
They mourn a day when a creature did not die
There is only one death I would rejoice in,
One just and true reason to raise the cup
That’s the death of this ancient ‘sport;’ this killing
To that, I’d raise my glass and take a sup
Safe back in her den, the vixen sleeps soundly
Outside, creatures stir; they scurry to and fro;
She dreams what foxes dream; I hope, profoundly
That she has heard her last Tally-Ho!
S P Oldham
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