The Hunting of the Hare

by Margaret Lucas

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Margaret Lucas is more commonly known by her married name, Margaret Cavendish. She was a seventeenth century English writer of chiefly narrative poetry. "The Hunting of the Hare" is an example of narrative verse, written in heroic couplets.

It is written from the point of view of a hare, who is seeking to evade his pursuers in a hunt by "pressing his body close to earth." Cavendish names the hare Wat, which helps to create a sense of intimacy; the reader is firmly encouraged to sympathize with the hunted hare, rather than with the hunters.

The poem describes how Wat would habitually lie low during the day to avoid being seen, and then move around at night. Unfortunately, this trick eventually fails Wat when he is found by huntsmen with dogs who spot him lying low in his ditch. Noticing them, Wat gets up and runs away, but the dogs are well trained to find and track his scent, so they follow him. Wat is filled with "Terrour" and "Feare" upon hearing the sounds of the dogs pursuing him. Not knowing what else to do, he conceals himself first in a sand pit and then, hearing the dogs getting closer, runs into a forest.

Wat continues to try and evade the dogs, even though he becomes extremely weary. Eventually, his fear is so great that it "gave him Wings." The poet describes how the fear of death can sometimes help us to move more quickly in a final desperate drive to escape it.

Unfortunately, Wat cannot be saved, however. When the dogs catch his scent, they relay this to the rest of the hunt, and "poore Wat" is pursued by men with horns on horseback, along with their dogs. Eventually, he dies.

The poet criticizes the behavior of the huntsmen, who behave as if they are "valiant soldiers" in killing a poor animal such as a hare. In fact, these men seem to believe as if God created all other animals for them to "Tyramize upon."

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