"Poor Is The Triumph O'er The Timid Hare!"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Following Thomson's death, in early autumn, 1748, the poet William Shenstone (1714–1763) wrote: "Though Thomson, sweet descriptive bard,/ Inspiring Autumn sung,/ Yet how should we the months regard/ That stopp'd his flowing tongue?" Though Thomson's style is at times monotonous, and his poems contain frequent digressions, this friend of Samuel Johnson, Boswell, Pope, Lord Buchan, Sir Robert Walpole, and many other important figures of the early eighteenth century, was a master at picturing scenery and rural life. Nature was, to him, an object of profound reverence, and even the digressions in his poems about it, such as the History of Celadon and Amelia, are like figures in a landscape. Thomson's patriotic poetry was also highly regarded and his "Rule, Britannia" has become a national song. He hated hunting practiced in autumn. He wrote of "the rude clamor of the Sportsman's joy," and protested "the falsely cheerful, barbarous game of death." He pitied the victims of the "cruel chase," the birds, the stag, the fox, the brindled boar, and the rabbit, fleeing the hounds.

Poor is the triumph o'er the timid hare,
Scar'd from the corn, and now to some lone seat
Retired,–the rushy fen; the ragged furze;
. . .
Of the same friendly hue, the withered fern;
. . .
Vain is her best precaution; though she sits
Conceal'd, with folded ears, unsleeping eyes,
By Nature raised to take the horizon in,
And head couch'd close betwixt her hairy feet,
In act to spring away. The scented dew
Betrays her early labyrinth; and deep
In scatter'd sullen openings, far behind,
With every breeze she hears the coming storm.