You know, my dear Sancho, the shooting is o'er,
That the gun o'er the meadows may thunder no more;
You know with regret the "close season" is here
And the end of the fun is the end of the year.
That in hedge-row and wheat-field, in stubble and weed,
The coveys of quail unmolested may feed;
That in intricate swamps, where rivulets run,
The woodcock have vanish'd and silent the gun;
That far in the forest's sequester'd retreat
The wings of the partridge securely may beat.
So, farewell to the sports of woodland and field,
The last shot is fir'd, the last volley peal'd.
Old Neptune! brave child of bleak Newfoundland!
Your joys are all over at bayside and strand.
The snipe have all fled from meadow and marsh,
Where the honk of the geese rose discordantly harsh;
The brant and the duck in phalanx no more
Stretch across the broad bay or enliven the shore,
Nor entice your old master, with boat and decoy,
To follow the sport with passionate joy,
While you with a dash and a splash and a swim
Would plunge for the fowl and bear them to him.
I sit by my fireside's flickering blaze
And muse o'er the past with its glorious days;
I think of the morns of October so bright,
When flush'd the gray skies with the bloom of the light,
When all the gay woods are color'd with dyes,
All the foliage illum'd with the glow of the skies;
When joyous, light-hearted, I'd pass from the gate
To range o'er the billowy uplands elate,
To plunge in the woodland's dim, glimmering shade,
Where the whir of the partridge was heard in the glade,
Or pass thro' the dry stubble-fields of the grain,
Where the shocks of the wheat so lately had lain;
Where the quail were at feed, or hid in the hedge
In tussocks of weed or hillocks of sedge,
While Sancho crept on with eyes all aflame,
Alert for the faintest first scent of the game.
And now by my hearth, in sluggish repose,
Half-watching the flame o'er the ember that glows
Lie Neptune and Sancho, both idly at rest,
In comfort luxurious, so perfectly blest!
Half-awake, half-asleep, they blink as the blaze
In their slumbering sense so fitfully plays;
And methinks, as I gaze in their eyes, I can trace
The thoughts and the musings that wrinkle their face.
They are thinking, mayhap, of their triumphs again,
Of the autumn foray, or the summer campaign--
Of the coveys they rous'd, of the flocks they pursued
By the hedge, in the field, or at edge of the wood;
And I know that when drowsy with sleep ye recline,
What exquisite dreamings and visions are thine;
For you whine and you yelp, and your paws seem to move
As if in pursuit of the game of the grove.