James Thomson (11 September 1700 – 27 August 1748 / Ednam in Roxburghshire, Scotland)
Death of the Stag
The stag, too, singled from the herd, where long
He ranged, the branching monarch of the shade,
Before the tempest drives. At first, in speed
He, sprightly, puts his faith, and, roused by fear,
Gives all his swift aerial soul to flight;
Against the breeze he darts, that way the more
To leave the lessening murderous cry behind:
He bursts the thickets, glances through the glades,
And plunges deep into the wildest wood:
If slow, yet sure, adhesive to the track,
Hot-steaming, up behind him come again
The inhuman rout, and from the shady depth
Expel him, circling through his every shift.
He sweeps the forest oft, and sobbing sees
The glades, mild opening to the golden day;
Where, in kind contest, with his butting friends
He wont to struggle, or his loves enjoy.
Oft in the full-descending flood he tries
To lose the scent, and lave his burning sides:
Oft seeks the herd; the watchful herd, alarm'd,
With selfish care avoids a brother's woe.
What shall he do? His once so vivid nerves,
So full of buoyant spirits, now no more
Inspire the course; but fainting breathless toil,
Sick, seizes on his heart: he stands at bay;
And puts his last weak refuge in despair.
The big round tears run down his dappled face;
He groans in anguish; while the growling pack,
Blood-happy, hang at his fair jutting chest,
And mark his beauteous chequer'd sides with gore.
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