A bunny poem

William Cowper

EPITAPH ON A HARE

[Written March, 1783. Published in The Gentleman’s Magazine,
Dec., 1784; afterwards in 1800. A MS. copy is in the British
Museum.]

HERE lies, whom hound did ne’er pursue,
Nor swifter greyhound follow,
Whose foot ne’er tainted morning dew,
Nor ear heard huntsman’s Hallo’,

Old Tiney, surliest of his kind,
Who, nurs’d with tender care,
And to domestic bounds confin’d,
Was still a wild Jack-hare.

Though duly from my hand he took
His pittance ev’ry night,
He did it with a jealous look,
And, when he could, would bite.

His diet was of wheaten bread,
And milk, and oats, and straw,
Thistles, or lettuces instead,
With sand to scour his maw.

On twigs of hawthorn he regal’d,
On pippins’ russet peel;
And, when his juicy salads fail’d,
Slic’d carrot pleas’d him well.

A Turkey carpet was his lawn,
Whereon he lov’d to bound,
To skip and gambol like a fawn,
And swing his rump around.

His frisking was at evening hours,
For then he lost his fear;
But most before approaching show’rs,
Or when a storm drew near.

Eight years and five round-rolling moons
He thus saw steal away,
Dozing out his idle noons,
And ev’ry night at play.

I kept him for his humour’s sake,
For he would oft beguile
My heart of thoughts that made it ache,
And force me to a smile.

But now, beneath this walnut-shade
He finds his long, last home,
And waits in snug concealment laid,
‘Till gentler Puss shall come.

He, still more aged, feels the shocks
From which no care can save,
And, partner once of Tiney’s box,
Must soon partake his grave.

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