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Poem by W. A. Foster

The Otter-Hound

When the grey morning mist in the glen lies at rest,
And the bright summer sun in full splendour is dressd;
While each far mountain top in his ray seems to be
An island of gold on a silvery sea.
Hark! the hunters already are down from the hill,
With their otter-dogs tracking each streamlet and rill;
And the voice of each echo replies to the sound
Of the musical bay of the bold Otter-hound.

Tis the sport of the brave, it has spirit to cheer
When the hounds in the stream and the hand on the spear;
To the light-balanced shaft well the hunter must look,
For a stroke at the game or a bound oer the brook.
As swift down the stream sweeps the quarry they chase,
Yet sure are the hounds, tho far slower in pace;
While freshens the scent at each hillock or mound,
And loud rings the bay of the Water-traind hound.

The vents grow more frequent, the music more deep,
And scarce from the surface the otter can keep;
While gallant and staunch the whole pack make a rush,
As his form from the pool stirs the wild willow-bush.
The battle now rages, the game brought to bay,
The wounded dogs yelling and limping away;
But the point of a spear pins him fast to the ground,
And his blood is the spoil of the Water-bred hound!

The hound of the Border which hunted the Tweed,
Were a cross from the Yetholm and Rothbury breed;
StrongIy cast in their limbs, muzzles drooping and full,
With a haunch like a race-horse, a breast like a bull-
Broad pendulous ears hanging over each jaw,
Feet webbd like a duck to the root of each claw-
Deep, mellow, and strong, like a bugle in sound,
Is the call from the voice of the true Otter-hound.

Still like spells of romance oer my spirit is cast,
The sports that I loved and the scenes that are past-
When with hound at my heel, or my angle in hand,
I wandered the wilds of my own border land;
And shared my repast at the streamlet or spring,
With stalwart Will Faa, the brave old Gipsy King;
And heard him recite to the sportsmen around,
The feats of his youth with the brave Water-hound.

I loved the old man for his love of the chace,
Like a ruin he stands now the last of his race;
For the tide of Improvement, the strength of the law,
Have ruined the subjects and sway of Will Faa:
Still the fire from his eye as those stories he told,
Took the chill from a heart once so free and so bold;
Tho lonely he lived, still companion he found
In Beaumont, his faithful old Water-trained hound.

W. A. Foster

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