Big game

For two long years he hunted them
All through the watching wood;
Two years of coming oh-so-close
But not quite coming good.
His searing speed and sighthound’s gaze
Frustrated at the last
By the quarry taking to the trees
Like topmen up the mast.
A hunting-dog deprived, denied
His dream; the primal thrill
Of satisfying ancient lusts:
The chase. The catch. The kill.
Until, one dull grey afternoon
He passed us, in full cry,
A dozen feet to every stride –
We saw the dead leaves fly
As, suddenly, he jinked and swerved
And darted to the right,
And by a stand of silver birch
He made the lethal bite.
Oh, that he’d slain the noble hart,
Run Reynard to defeat!
A rabbit, even – that at least
We could have cooked to eat.
But no. He turned and, head held high
Accepted our applause,
With triumph blazing in his eyes –

And a squirrel in his jaws.


A silly ballad about our stupid dog – a little metrical therapy to end a weary day. N.

13 thoughts on “Big game

  1. Hi Nick,

    lovely poem, poor squirrel. I like how you build up the story, The hunting dog that finally catches the catch! I suppose the catch is an anti climax, as catching a fox or rabbit would have been the best. I wonder if squirrels can’t be cooked and eaten btw, I hope not! 🙂 Can humans eat foxes btw?

    A dog’s instinct is to hunt. It is part of nature, and if the squirrel, swift and cunning, got caught, it probably was not a fit young one? (Just trying to justify the catch, lol)

    The downside of havng cats, is that they kill birds and mice and bring them home instead of eating them. My friend had a cat who would bring home entire ducks! Antoher one hunted for meat at the neighbour’s kitchen sink and would take that home …

    I suppsoe it is the same with dogs, you want them to be free and run, but they have these instincts…

    I enjoyed the poem, Nick! And the dog proved his point 🙂

    • I must confess I felt no sympathy for the squirrel: they’re everywhere! I’m told that you CAN eat them, but I’m in no hurry to find out for myself…we used to have a cat, and he was even worse when it came to murdering things; we found a baby rabbit (alive and uninjured but terrified) on the stairs one Sunday morning, as well as innumerable mice, both living and dead. It’s probably a bad thing to say these days, but I get a great thrill from seeing the whippet doing what he was bred to do – it would be nice if he could catch something properly edible for a change, though! N.x

  2. You do the mock heroic well, Nick, as you do with so many different kinds of form. Have you been looking in on Alexander Pope lately?
    This is an ancient technique, of course. The build-up of the story,
    Oh, that he’d slain the noble hart,
    Run Reynard to defeat!
    and then the final lines, magnificent in their glorious truth:
    …He turned and, head held high
    Accepted our applause,
    With triumph blazing in his eyes –

    And a squirrel in his jaws.
    The triumph of the whippet, the comeupance in that, after all, it was only a squirrel, and the good humor of the human graced with a touch of chagrin!
    Ah, the mighty hunter!

    • The mock-heroic is enormous fun, I must admit. And I’m never quite sure whether Pope himself was wholly serious; I suspect he was, which makes me feel even more disrespectful! I find it rather liberating to do a piece like this now and again; although it’s metrical, it feels quite loose, and I can indulge the flamboyant, theatrical side of myself I usually (and with good reason) keep on a pretty tight rein! N.

  3. Another treasure Nick!

    But poor squirrel – I sometimes hate the way nature has to work. I think I would have designed it differently!! LOL:)

    Once again your talent shines through as does the imagined look of joy on your dog’s face – bless him!

    Christine x

    • Hi Christine, lovely to hear from you. It was a great moment in the Boy’s life: the trees are quite close together in our woods, so the squirrels can easily scamper to safely; I’m still not sure exactly how he managed to nail one in the open. It probably tripped…

      Hope all’s well with you. N.x

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