When I am asked why I am in the Conservative Party,
I reply "The Fox's Prophecy".

The Fox's Prophecy

This is a ghost story in verse published in Horse & Hound in December 1979.
Some verses have been omitted to fit the text in the space available. The poem is supposed to be over 100 years old!

Tom Hill was in the saddle
One bright November morn,
The echoing glades of Guiting Wood
Were ringing with his horn

The varied tints of Autumn
Still lingered in the wood
And on the leaves the morning sun
Poured out its golden flood

Soft, fleecy clouds were sailing
Across the vault of blue;
A fairer hunting morning
No huntsman ever knew.

All nature seemed rejoicing
That glorious morn to see;
All seemed to breath a fresher life-
Beast, insect, bird and tree.

But sound and sight of beauty
Fell dull on eye and ear;
The huntsman's heart was heavy,
His brow oppressed with care.

High in the stirrups raised he stood,
And long he gazed around;
And breathlessly and anxiously
He listened for a sound.

No voice of hound, no sound of horn;
The woods around were mute;
As though the earth had swallowed up,
His comrades - man and brute

He thought, "I must go essay to find
My hounds at any cost;
A huntsman who has lost his hounds
Is but a huntsman lost".

When round he turned his horse's head
And shook his bridle free,
There he was struck by an aged fox
That sat beneath a tree.

He raised his eyes in glad surprise,
The huntsman keen and bold;
But there was in that fox's look
That made his blood run cold.

He raised his hand to touch his horn,
And shout a "Tally Ho!"
But mastered by that fox's eye
His lips refused to blow

For he was grim and gaunt of limb,
With age all silvered o'er
He might have been an Arctic fox
Escaped from Greenland's shore

But age his vigour had not tamed
Nor dimm'd his sparkling eye,
Which shone with an unearthly fire;
That fire should never die.

And thus the huntsman he addressed
In tones distinct and clear,
Who heard as they do in a dream
The fairies' music hear

"Huntsman" he said - a sudden thrill
Through all the listener ran
To hear a creature of the wood
Speak like a Christian man -

"Last of my race to me tis given
The future to unfold
To speak the words that never yet
Spake fox of mortal mould.

"Then print my words upon your heart,
And stamp them on your brain,
That you to others may impart
My prophecy again".

"Strong life is yours in manhood's prime
Your cheek with heat is red;
Time has not laid his finger yet
In earnest on your head".

"But err your limbs are bent with age,
And err your locks are grey,
The sport that you have loved so well
Shall long have passed away."