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Littell's Living Age/Volume 131/Issue 1697/King Henry’s Hunt

< Littell's Living Age‎ | Volume 131‎ | Issue 1697

From Fraser's Magazine.


King Henry stood in Waltham Wood,
One morn in merry May-time;
Years fifteen hundred thirty-six,
From Christ had roll'd away time.

King Henry stood in Waltham Wood,
All young green, sunny-shady.
He would not mount his pawing horse,
Though men and dogs were ready.

"What ails his Highness? Up and down
In moody sort he paceth;
He is not wont to be so slack,
Whatever game he chaseth."

He paced and stopp'd; he paced and turn'd;
At times he inly mutter'd;
He pull'd his girdle, twitch'd his beard;
But not one word he utter'd.

The hounds in couples nosed about,
Or on the sward lay idle;
The huntsmen stole a fearful glance,
While fingering girth or bridle.

Among themselves, but not too loud,
The young lords laugh'd and chatter'd,
Or broke a branch of hawthorn-bloom,
As though it nothing matter'd.

King Henry sat on a fell'd oak,
With gloomier eyes and stranger;
His brows were knit, his lip he bit;
To look that way was danger.

Mused he on pope and emperor?
Denied them and defied them?
Or traitors in his very realm
Complotting? — woe betide them!

Suddenly on the south-west wind,
Distinct though distant, sounded
A cannon shot, — and to his feet
The king of England bounded.

"My horse!" he shouts, — "Uncouple now!"
And all were quickly mounted.
A hind was found; man, horse, and hound
Like furious demons hunted.

Fast fled the deer by grove and glade,
The chase did faster follow;
And every wild-wood alley rang
With hunter's horn and hollo.

Away together streamed the hounds;
Forward press'd every rider.
You're free to slay a hind in May,
If there's no calf beside her.

King Harry rode a mighty horse,
His Grace being broad and heavy,
And like a stormy wind he crash'd
Through copse and thicket leavy.

He rode so hard, and roar'd so loud,
All men his course avoided;
The fiery steed, long held on fret,
With many a snort enjoy'd it.

The hind was kill'd, and down they sat
To flagon and to pasty.
"Ha, by Saint George, a noble prince!
Tho' hot, by times, and hasty."

Lord Norfolk knew, and other few,
Wherefore that chase began on
The signal of a gun far off,
One growl of distant cannon, —

And why so jovial grew his Grace,
That erst was sad and sullen:
With that boom from the tower, had fall'n
The head of fair Anne Bullen.

Her neck, which Henry used to kiss,
The bloody axe did sever;
Their little child, Elizabeth,
She'll see no more forever.

Gaily the king for Greenwich rides;
Each moment makes his glee more;
He thinks — "To-morrow I'm betrothed,
At last, to young Jane Seymour!"

The sunshine falls, the wild-bird calls,
Across the slopes of Epping;
From grove to glade, through light and shade,
The troops of deer are stepping.

W. A..