Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound
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FHL WEEK, June 30, 2020

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The Fox’s Prophecy

Literature

fox.anthony barhamPainting by Anthony BarhamThe Fox’s Prophecy was written in 1871 by D. W. Nash and presented to the then Master of the Ledbury Hounds. Foxes have forever been suspected of harboring deep thoughts, and this poem certainly reflects those ancient superstitions. Through Nash’s fox we read predictions of a future that might well be recognizable to many readers in these times.

However, Foxhunting Life remains apolitical, as always, and, if you read carefully, you will find that for every stone cast by this poem at anyone who might take offense, be assured that there is a stanza here casting a stone as well at the opposite end of the spectrum. The fox, also apolitical, seems to believe that all humans have something to answer for.

For swiftly o’er the level shore
The waves of progress ride;
The ancient landmarks one by one
Shall sink beneath the tide.

Time-honoured creeds and ancient faith,
The Altar and the Crown,
Lordship’s hereditary right,
Before that tide go down.

Base churl shall mock the mighty names
Writ on the roll of time;
Religion shall be held a jest
And loyalty a crime.

No word of prayer, no hymns of praise
Sound in the village school;
The people’s education
Utilitarians rule.

In England’s ancient pulpits
Lay orators shall preach
New creeds, and free religions
Self-made apostles teach.

No harvest feast nor Christmastide
Shall farm or manor hold;
Science alone can plenty give,
The only God is Gold.

Homes where love and peace should dwell
Fierce politics shall vex,
And unsexed woman strive to prove
Herself the coarser sex.

Mechanics in their workshops
Affairs of State decide;
Honour and truth old fashioned words
The noisy mobs deride.

The statesmen that should rule the realm
Coarse demagogues displace;
The glory of a thousand years
Shall end in foul disgrace.

Trade shall be held the only good
And gain the sole device;
The statesman’s maxim shall be peace,
And peace at any price.

Her army and her navy
Britain shall cast aside;
Soldiers and ships are costly things,
Defence an empty pride.

The footsteps of the invader
Then England’s shore shall know,
While home-bred traitors give the hand
To England’s every foe.

But not for aye yet once again
When purged by fire and sword
The land her freedom shall regain
To manlier thoughts restored.

Taught wisdom by disaster,
England shall learn to know
That trade is not the only gain
Heaven gives to man below.

The greed for gold departed,
The golden calf cast down,
Old England’s sons again shall raise
The Altar and the Crown.

Posted June 16, 2020

Published at the request of a reader.