The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

Margaret Cavendish’s poem begins in a field where a small hare, Wat, lies close to the ground between two ridges of plowed earth. The poet notes that Wat always faces the wind, which would otherwise blow under his fur and make him cold. Wat rests in the field all day. At sunset he begins wandering, which he continues to do until dawn. Huntsmen and dogs discover Wat, who begins to runs away. As the dogs bark, Wat becomes terrified and believes that every shadow is a dog. After running a distance, he lies under a clod of earth in a sandpit. Soon he hears the huntsmen’s horns and the dogs’ barking, and he begins to run once more, this time so quickly that he scarcely treads the ground. Wat runs into a thick wood and hides under a broken bough, frightened by every leaf that is shaken by the wind. Hoping to deceive the dogs, he runs into unenclosed fields. While the dogs search for his scent, Wat, being weary, slows down. Sitting on his hind legs, he rubs the dust and sweat from his face with his forefeet. He then licks his feet and cleans his ears so well that no one could tell he had been hunted.

Wat sees the hounds and is again terrified. His fear gives him the strength to move more quickly. Ironically, he has never felt stronger than during this time of crisis. The poet notes that spirits often seek to guard the heart from death but that death eventually wins. The hounds approach Wat quickly. Just as the hare resigns himself to his fate, the winds...

(The entire section is 505 words.)