Sunday, 18 July 2010

Reynard.

I see in Saturday's Times that this new government is quite likely to repeal the hunting ban - for readers overseas who don't know about this - Fox hunting has gone on in this country for hundreds of years. Groups meet under their Master and hunt foxes with a pack of fox hounds. When a fox is sighted, a horn is blown, everyone joins in the chase, the dogs get there first and most likely the fox is torn to pieces by a pack of dogs. A hunting ban was brought in where hunts could still meet and hunt the fox but it became illegal for the hunt to allow the fox to be torn to shreds by dogs - it was up to the Chief Huntsman to kill it cleanly with a shotgun. Yes - in lots of parts of the country the fox is a menace to hens - but he also cleans up a lot of the rabbit population. Opinions are strong and they are divided. The farmer is on one side and I am on the other, so we agree to differ.
The above is a simplification of the issues but basically that is what it comes down to. Here is my contribution to the debate - for debate there will surely be all over again.

FOX

A fox came round the farm one day,
although what time I could not say.
He picked his way across the yard
and there he left his calling card.

He sniffed around the chicken coop,
no doubt imagined chicken soup.
He stood upright and looked between
the window bars - took in the scene.

I wonder if the hens took fright
or, if asleep, they missed the sight.

He sniffed around the barn of hay
(I guess the farm cats were away).
He came right up to the farm back door
and left his footprints on the floor.

I hope he calls again some day
(when the hens are safely shut away).
Maybe he often comes and goes -
we can only track him when it snows.

He's a handsome chap, still fears the chase
but now at last he's found his place.
His only enemy is man.
Please don't repeal the hunting ban.

For I would miss the splendid sight,
the glimpse of a fox at the end of night
when he slinks along the hedgerow back
to his earth at the end of the farmyard track.

Have a nice Sunday.

17 comments:

mrsnesbitt said...

Yes I agree entirely. There is a hunt in our village and I despise the pomp, the whole thing! One of my all time favourite poems has to be this one....



Jolly Hunter by Charles Causley

I saw a jolly hunter
I saw a jolly hunter
with a jolly gun
Walking in the country
In the jolly sun

In the jolly meadow
sat a jolly hare
saw the jolly hunter
took jolly care

Hunter jolly eager
sight of jolly prey
forgot gun pointing
wrong jolly way(!)

Jolly hunter jolly head
over heels gone
jolly old safety catch
not jolly on!

Bang! went the jolly gun
Hunter jolly dead
Jolly prey* got clean away
Jolly good I said

Heather said...

I think I share your views Pat. I saw a fox the other evening just down the path from us, running between two rows of houses toward the little wood on the edge of our development. They are beautiful animals but I shall never forget the awful sight when I drew the curtains one morning years ago and saw what remained of our neighbours six geese. It wouldn't have been so bad if the fox had taken them to eat, but it just seemed to enjoy killing them.

Poet in Residence said...

Weaver will correct me if I'm wrong,but here's an observation:
Fox hunts would be a flop without the many female riders, can be 20 or 30, who follow the man with the horn and his 3 or 4 plum-faced and scarlet-jacketed companions and these riders are almost all young women dressed as it happens in a shade of funeral gray. I wonder what they get out of it, the young women I mean. I can understand a farmer with livestock wanting to get after a fox, but why the daughters of the local gentry? Can anybody tell me that?

Excellent poem by the way, Weaver. That's a super poem from Mrs Nesbitt, too.

Gwei Mui said...

I agree with your sentiments Weaver -even though I was brought up in the countryside and relatives on my father's side are farmers in Gloucestershire I've seen first hand the cruelty that is inflicted on the fox. I've also seen the devastation that the hunt causes to the farmers land!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Thanks for that Denise - I love Charles Causley and didn't know that one - brilliant.Heather - yes, that is my view too - they do cause havoc and kill for pleasure - but then so do the huntsmen - it is always going to be divisive.
Poet - yes there is some truth in what you say - I suppose if one is a horse man/woman then there is pleasure to be had in galloping oer the fields. Our hunt always have a fence-repairer travelling with them so that they can mop up any damage to farmers' fields.
Gwei Mui - interesting comments too.

Dave King said...

I have to agree, though I had been led to believe that all country folk were in favour of hunting.

Tramp said...

I grew up in the UK countryside and from an early age I was aware of the "hunt". Mounted on their steeds, staring down their noses at us. Their visits to our village were dreaded by most people, their pack of hounds had not been fed for several days before the outing so they weren't particularly fussy about what they went after. They went where they liked causing a lot of damage and the police were reluctant to get invoved. There was usually a odd beagle or two wandering around after they had left which if returned to them were shot.
As the years went by it became a magnet for social climbers keen to show that they were better than the peasants.
I now live in the Czech Republic, foxes need to be controlled when they become a problem, they can be carriers of rabies but it is done without the snobbism of the English hunt...Tramp

maggi said...

I am so with you here. There is such a savagery in the relentless pursuit.

steven said...

hello weaver - i'm not sure about the killing of animals for pleasure. i know it's a piece of human history and especially that fox-hunting is a piece of countryside history but it seems so unnecessary. it's interesting to read people still ascribing human emotions to the actions of wild animals! steven

George said...

I side with the foxes and all other animals that are hunted for pleasure. My sentiments were captured by a recent cartoon depicting a couple of deer facing several hunters with their weapons pointed toward the deer. One deer says to the other: "Why don't they thin out their own damn population?"

Pondside said...

I have no experience at all with a hunt of any kind, so feel unqualified to contribute to the discussion, except (and there's always a 'but', isn't there!?) that somehow, when natural predators disappear, there has to be a way to keep down the population of some wildlife.

rallentanda said...

Ask yourself this? What type of person enjoys watching an animal being ripped apart. Psychopath is a word that comes to mind!

angryparsnip said...

At one time this was probably a much needed way to control the fox and other animals but when you wipe-out one link in the chain. . . can anyone one say the plague ?
I side with the fox.

cheers, parsnip

Crafty Green Poet said...

the last time I saw a fox it was lying in a grass verge, stretched out as if asleep, but its eyes dead and glassy, a red gash on its face.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Seems that in blogland we are all pro-fox!

BT said...

I think that's probably a comment on your readers Weaver! Not many true blues here! I have seen a hunt a couple of times and I did enjoy the spectacle but don't like the idea of the 'kill' at the end. Didn't we all know the Tories would repeal this bill? They always look after their own.

Erratic Thoughts said...

OMG, that was a beautiful poem and for a good cause...