Ammon Wrigley - "A Hunting Day"

The following is a transcription of a work by Saddleworth poet Ammon Wrigley (1861-1946).

A Hunting Day

I need not go a-hunting, I need not go again;
I need not shout “Hark forrad” in the sunshine or the rain;
I need not seek the upland, the meadow and the garth;
For I can go a-hunting while I sit upon the hearth.
The horn that Joe o’ Breb’s blew is hanging on the wall,
I only need to see it and I hear its mellow call;
I get a pipe of “bacco” and I sit down in a chair,
And I’m away in Saddleworth a-hunting of the hare.
You may say that I am dreaming, but I care not if I’m borne
From Lydgate out to Lurden at the winding of the horn;
It’s all among the hound dogs and all among the men,
And all among the brown hares I know I’m happy then.
There’s Joe o’ Breb’s in scarlet, as proud as any king,
His dogs are howling round him two and twenty in a ring;
“Now hearken, Rip and Ringwood,” he tells them as they wheel,
“There’s a bonnie hare on Wharmton that will let you see her heel.”
They’re coming from the Churchside and Friezland lads have come,
They’ve left their coats and singlets a-hanging up at “whom,”
They hadn’t time to don them, for hunting days are sweet,
And ther’s old Jamie Raltal dancing round i’th’ stocking feet.
They’re coming down the by-roads, through the hedges and the gaps,
And all the lads are wearing the scarlet in their caps,
And lasses from the hamlets—and they’re bonnie lasses, too—
They say they’ll go a-hunting as their mothers used to do.
They’re climbing up to Wickens, for the hounds are questing there.
Hark! hark! again to Towler, and now Plunder’s found the hare;
Oh! there’s going to be such hunting, I could jump out of my skin,
And the valleys all are ringing with the shouting and the din.
She’s up among the fir trees and o’er the mountain top;
She bowls away to Colthill where the fields begin to drop;
The hounds are in a cluster, and it’s hark away and hie,
“She’s a hare among a thousand,” I hear the huntsman cry.
She whirls away to Fieldhouse and out to Wallhill farm,
The hounds are full of mettle and the pace is getting warm;
She spins them up the hillfields among the quarries rough,
Where Blueman goes a-leading, for old Towler’s had enough.
At a farmstead on the Platting they had heard that break away,
They were women hanging clothes on a sunny washing day;
“Bi hanged,” they said “to suddlin’, to soap suds an’ to dirt,
Eaur Jack mun try another week to wear his greasy shirt.”
She rattles out to Blunder o’er the meadows like a shot,
“We have her now,” says Joe, “and we'll tie her in a knot.”
“Now, Ranter, up and wing her,” he cries for all he’s worth,
But the bonnie hares of Wharmton are the slyest hares on earth. |
They’re shouting out at Nebo, such a jolly ringing shout,
There’s no one cares a hang if it rips the heavens out;
The topstones on the fences are dancing as we go,
You haven’t been a-hunting if you never followed Joe.
She swings around to Herdslow and throws them off the scent,
Hark back again and wind her and find the way she went;
But Joe he whips his horn out and gathers in the pack,
“She’s gone away to Wharmton. I knew she’d double back.”
We cross the fields to Green Leach and there to every eye
She bounces in the “bent” grass and runs out to the sky;
She bangs away to Mantley, where the field is getting thin,
And we lose her out at Rooden when the day is closing in.
I feel I’m growing sleepy, and the fire’s burning low,
I see the hunters fading down the road that shadows go;
And I hear a far-off singing in a land of old delight,
For oh! I’ve been a-hunting with Joe o’ Breb’s to-night.
So when the wind is howling, and the folk are all a-bed,
I sit thinking of the life that our lusty fathers led:
Of the greencoat and the scarlet; the ripping days and good;
A man will think of hunting, if there’s hunting in the blood.
I'll wind that horn on Wharmton, I'll wind it clear and high,
And wake the long dead hunters on the Churchside where they lie;
I'll call up old John Andrew and the men that used to be,
And they all shall go a-hunting with Joe o’ Breb’s and me.