Last Updated September 5, 2023.
This poem is a very interesting example of narrative verse, written in heroic couplets, by a female poet in seventeenth-century England. It offers the reader an insight into the poet's views and preoccupations, and that insight is rather surprising: the concerns of the poet, who sets herself in opposition to hunting and bloodsports, seem distinctly modern. In choosing to make the protagonist in this poem a hare, Wat, being hunted by a pack of nameless men and dogs, the poet forces us to put ourselves in the position of a suffering animal whose "feare" and "terrour" is a direct result of human behavior. By depicting the hare as a "patient" creature, whose desire for life is just as strong as ours—in "striving with Death," he finds a new lease of strength beyond what should have been physically possible—the poet expresses the hypocrisy of hunting these animals for sport. Indeed, the men and dogs in the poem, who express "hooping" joy at having killed the hare, are the ones who seem like animals, not the noble hare.
The poet does not mince her words in describing the act of hunting these animals—indeed, she criticizes those who would fill their stomachs with "murther'd bodios" (murdered bodies) whom they have killed for sport. This is strong, direct language, in line with the statement that man is "the most cruell wild" of all animals. The poet depicts man as a creature who has failed to appreciate God's creation, believing instead that all other animals exist for him to "tyramize upon."
It is interesting, too, that Wat in this poem most certainly seems to have a soul. Like a human does, he feels fear, urgency to live, and is possessed of a "Ghost" or spirit which he is forced to "give up" when he is caught. The poet's use of structure and perspective force the reader to view the relationship between human and animal in a different way: Lucas questions, are humans special among animals? Why should we imagine ourselves to be so, and then abuse other animals in this way?