after Chesterton’s “Lepanto”

Note: Cahaba Run is a river in Alabama

Dogs dash in black and tan through clouds of briar and bush,
All sprinting, unrelenting, such no city man could hush.
They cast a shadow long, a gait that’s wide, a bellow deep,
And stir awake all creatures who lie still in hidden sleep,
Far from the filthy pressure of the daily city grind,
A pressure that deforms, constricting little modern minds
In the limits of the cities, with their liberal doublespeak,
So empty, void, and vacant, trading manhood for what’s weak;
But dogs keep wild, they chase their prey, belonging to a pack;
Their master is the Alpha male, to town he won’t turn back.
A roar is heard beyond the hills; men’s ears prick to their bark;
Their yelps and howls ring loud and far, each bay is clear and stark.
Our age-old hunter is alive, unshorn and great in soul;
He’s strutting, shunning pavement, treading light his grassy knoll;
He roams the land to hunt, to search for God and nature’s law,
__More alive than most men,
__Going in for the win,
__Free of modern men’s sin,
__With Life deep in his craw!

 

 

Gregory Ross is an emerging poet and a pilot who lives in Stafford, Virginia. He is a Roman Catholic husband and father of 6 children.


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11 Responses

  1. Leo Zoutewelle

    I am no hunter, but I find I can smell the hunt in your poem. Very well done!

    Reply
  2. Sally Cook

    Much to be commended here. But isn’t modern life also a hunt by the pack?

    Reply
  3. Gregory Ross

    It’s true I think, that modern life hunts each person through conformity. However, the hunt in this poem is more about our search for Truth. Where are we to find it? In our modern cities with liberal, double speak? Or, out in “God’s country” with nature, living tradition and heritage?

    Reply
  4. Gregory Ross

    It is true that modern life hunts us through conformity to its progressive causes. However, the hunt in this poem is more about our hunt, or our search for Truth. Where are we to find it? In the modern city with “liberal, double-speak”? Or out in nature, with God’s creatures, living tradition and in touch with our heritage? I choose the latter.

    Reply
  5. Sally Cook

    We have bartered more years for a distressing lack of real communication with others. What so many consider unfashionable was the basis on which our country was built. While there is more physical work in the country, that work has a logical beginning and end, and allows for more time to reflect. There is an artificiality in city work which is not what humans need.

    Reply
    • Gregory Ross

      I agree Sally, very well put. We are swamped in superficial concerns, and artificial reality. I think this artificial living only serves to help people avoid the Truth. If they can avoid dealing with real people, animals, emotions, sore muscles, suffering – then they do not have to confront the issue of what is True. In they end they miss out on what is Good and Beautiful too. And the ugliness repeats itself.

      Reply
  6. Margaret Coats

    Just a single stanza adapting Chesterton’s lengthy “Lepanto”! You’ve done a marvelous job describing the hunt and the age-old hunter. Very effective final line saying why your Don John of Austria doesn’t finally ride home from the Crusade, as long as he is living. Your poem can stand alone, but it would be a worthy addition to any discussion of “Lepanto.” In fact, it could be a good idea to type up “A Hunt along the Cahaba” and keep it in the book with Chesterton’s poem.

    Reply
    • Gregory Ross

      Thank you very much! In fact, there are three other stanzas, but they were not complete, so only that stanza was published. Below, is the rest of the poem:

      Pups paws patter down trails rarely heard,
      Our pack awakes the woods at dawn, the fauna have all stirred,
      And right behind their master yells with his imposing drawl,
      Our hunter of the South directs the chase with just one call,
      With only his old shotgun, to their bay and bark he sprung,
      He learned to hunt and fish at dawn when he was very young,
      In the silence of this murky morning, small and unafraid,
      His dogs trot up the old dirt road as if they’re on parade,
      His hunters started running as the dog’s bay from afar,
      The hunt along Cahaba Run moves like a shooting star,
      His Beagles jumped a cottontail, then bound and run and creep,
      And rabbits circle, stop and hide – and dare not make a peep.
      His brothers wait on hill sides off of trails and to the north,
      The Huntsman cuts across the briars, to them he’s driving forth,
      He roams the land to hunt, to search for God and nature’s law,
      More alive than most men,
      Going in for the win,
      Free of modern men’s sin,
      With Life deep in his craw!

      Dogs dash in black and tan through clouds of briar and bush,
      All sprinting, unrelenting, such no city man could hush,
      They cast a shadow long, a gait that’s wide, a bellow deep,
      And stir awake all creatures who lie still in hidden sleep,
      Far from the filthy pressure of the daily city grind,
      A pressure that deforms, constricting little modern minds,
      In the limits of the cities, with their liberal doublespeak,
      So empty, void, and vacant, trading manhood for what’s weak,
      But dogs keep sane, they chase their prey, belonging to a pack,
      Their master is the Alpha male, to town he won’t turn back.
      A roar is heard beyond the hills; men’s ears prick to their bark,
      Their yelps and howls ring loud and far, each bay is clear and stark,
      Our age-old hunter is alive, unshorn and great in soul,
      He’s strutting, shunning pavement, treading light his grassy knoll,
      He roams the land to hunt, to live for God and nature’s law,
      More alive than most men,
      Going in for the win,
      Free of modern men’s sin,
      With Life deep in his craw!

      Black Birds scatter as they take to the sky,
      Our hunt along Cahaba Run is shooting as they fly!
      There’s yelling, like birds singing, in the brush that grows uncleared,
      Dividing shadows of the woods as gray hair splits his beard,
      He curls their bloody tips of wagging white young Beagles tails,
      as thorny briars rip their fur, the fun now mutes their wails,
      He’s hunted rabbit holes along the shores of crooked creeks,
      He hunts them while he sprints along, a grin across his cheeks.
      Some men have hunted clubs abroad and took financial loss,
      Indeed, their search for sport and meat has been a heavy cross,
      Where yuppies yawn at dawn and drool upon their cocktail glass,
      And hippies bask in tubs too small to hold their portly ass.
      From far along the river sounds a booming scattergun,
      Our hunt along Cahaba strides across the fog for fun,
      He roams the land to hunt, in love with God and nature’s law,
      More alive than most men,
      Going in for the win,
      Free of modern men’s sin,
      With Life deep in his craw!

      Laid low from his shot, a rabbit on the grass,
      Who jumped a stump and then he crossed a trail he should not pass,
      The dogs run on to bay their song, and find the huntsman’s game,
      They sprint out far, our huntsman walks, and calls each dog by name,
      They trace a path, a pattern round, about a clump of trees,
      Then coming back, they jump another rabbit next to me,
      As bays and howls, incite the chase, grow loud, and call our man,
      Who loves to seek his food and truth in woods out with his clan,
      His heart beats fast, his eyes get wide, he waves me on just so,
      And points ahead across the creek to watch the morning show,
      A scene unfolds with sun and cloud, the rising of a star,
      with spangled dew and mist that rose like smoke from a cigar,
      He said, “I love the chase, the dogs, and taking my own meat,
      And yet each morn’ opens a scene that God does not repeat!”
      He roams the land to hunt, to be with God and nature’s law,
      More alive than most men,
      Going in for the win,
      Free of modern men’s sin,
      With Life deep in his craw!

      Reply
  7. Margaret Coats

    Thanks for the rest of the poem! As a fan of refrain poetry, I’m happy to see that the powerful final line ends a chorus after each stanza. Could I make one little suggestion, to improve the meter, by replacing o-PENS in the line, “each morn opens a scene” with something that normally takes a stress on the second syllable? I see that you used “unfolds” a little earlier, but here perhaps “sets out” or “puts forth” would do. Enjoyed the whole piece, and noticed that special Southern country word “outwith” from Scots, not meaning “without” but “beyond.”

    Reply
    • Gregory Ross

      Excellent suggestions! I’ll add them, and good catch with my Southern vocab! You are spot on!

      Reply

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