(The Fox Meditates)

Rudyard Kipling

WHEN Samson set my brush afire
        To spoil the Timnites’ barley,
I made my point for Leicestershire
        And left Philistia early.
Through Gath and Rankesborough Gorse I fled,
        And took the Coplow Road, sir!
And was a Gentleman in Red
        When all the Quorn wore woad, sir!

When Rome lay massed on Hadrian’s Wall,
        And nothing much was doing,
Her bored Centurions heard my call
        O’ nights when I went wooing.
They raised a pack—they ran it well
        (For I was there to run ’em)
From Aesica to Carter Fell,
        And down North Tyne to Hunnum.

When William landed hot for blood,
        And Harold’s hosts were smitten,
I lay at earth in Battle Wood
        While Domesday Book was written.
Whatever harm he did to man,
        I owe him pure affection;
For in his righteous reign began
        The first of Game Protection.

When Charles, my namesake, lost his mask,
        And Oliver dropped his’n,
I found those Northern Squires a task,
        To keep ’em out of prison.
In boots as big as milking-pails,
        With holsters on the pommel,
They chevied me across the Dales
        Instead of fighting Cromwell.

When thrifty Walpole took the helm,
        And hedging came in fashion,
The March of Progress gave my realm
        Enclosure and Plantation.
’Twas then, to soothe their discontent,
        I showed each pounded Master,
However fast the Commons went,
        I went a little faster!

When Pigg and Jorrocks held the stage,
        And Steam had linked the Shires,
I broke the staid Victorian age
        To posts, and rails, and wires.
Then fifty mile was none too far
        To go by train to cover,
Till some dam’ sutler pupped a car,
        And decent sport was over!

When men grew shy of hunting stag,
        For fear the Law might try ’em,
The Car put up an average bag
        Of twenty dead per diem.
Then every road was made a rink
        For Coroners to sit on;
And so began, in skid and stink,
        The real blood-sport of Britain!

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