Eulogy for the Foxhunter
--After W.B. Yeats’ “The Ballad of the Foxhunter”
He asked the servant after lunch to put him in a cushioned chair—it was a red one; high-back and leather because there couldn’t be any other type in the manor (all of the chairs were “to be red, leather high-backs.”
The servant did so and was chastised for his dragging of the fine chair by the back legs, chipping and splintering the wood. “You damned fool!” The old man was white-haired but his throat made fine of his voice.
He was heavy. The servant put him in his chair and then set it in the grass (“Put the chair upon the grass: bring Rody and his hounds, that I may contented pass from these earthly bounds”).
“Rody!” the servant yelled, walking away and around the corner of the manor. About the backside was a stable and several horses inside for hunts, though the hunts had lessened every month by severe degrees until now, when any longer there’d be no chase.
Rody drew out from the stable with a blind dog beside him, the dog’s blue and grey gaze stuck on the grass fields, effulgent in their verdure, behind the servant.
“We’ve found his time. Grab the hounds.”
“Okay.” Rody turned and whistled quietly—but urgingly—to the corner of dogs sleeping soundly. They rose and trotted to his side and together they walked to the man in his red chair, holding onto tufts of grass beside him.
“Rody, I hear you. Come up here. Blow the horn, make the hills reply.”
Rody held the horn that had dangled from his waist to his lips and blew as asked. He looked down afterwards and watched the old man’s eyes, which too, like the dog beside him now, were blinded by age.
In their eyes there burned some fire of something gone, though in their hearts they didn’t feel pangs of nostalgia or reminisce of poignant stories; they felt it, but it was a fire in their eyes. The dog shifted and the man’s fingers moved and swayed. Finally, as the echo of the horn died in the distant trees’ green foliage, the old man let out a feeble croak: “Please, huntsman Rody, blow again the horn.”
Rody was trembling now, his fingers sitting twitched against the instrument. He stared into the old man’s eyes: an old man but the very same that had beaten and abused him beyond sense; that had threatened death upon each server on numerous occasions. Why Rody felt such horror at the passing of the man, he didn’t know. Perhaps it was the month at ends when the man lost his sight, thought not of hunts, and gave his money freely to those who treated him without contempt or hate. He grew passive and almost appreciative, and this didn’t go without snaps of rage (albeit mild in his declining health), but he overall seemed loosened.
Rody stammered and then managed, “I cannot blow upon my horn, sir. I can but sigh and weep.”
The old foxhunter simply licked his cracked lips and leaned deep into his chair. The dog beside him sniffed at the grass and then put his chin along a soft patch near his paw.
The hounds gazed upon his face, aged hounds and young. The blind hound was the only who lied beside the man on the sun-smitten grass; they held deep commune in their hearts: the moments pass and pass. The blind hound with a mournful din then lifted slow his wintry head. The servants bore the body in; the hounds wailed for the dead.