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[Ed. Note: In spring 1774, Cowper, who loved animals, was given three young hares; he named them "Bess," "Tiney," (i. e., "Tiny") and "Puss" (despite their feminine names and Cowper's occasional feminine pronouns in referring to them, all three were males). He built a hutch for them, and kept them the house he shared with Mrs. Unwin. They were allowed to roam about the parlor in the evening while Cowper read the poetry he had written that day to Mrs. Unwin. Bess died after less than a year, but Tiney, whose death is the subject of this poem, lived over 8 years, and Puss lived to nearly 12, dying on March 9, 1786. Cowper wrote of Puss in his major work The Task, Book III, in 1785, "I knew at least one hare that had a friend." --Nelson]
- HERE lies, whom hound did ne'er pursue,
- Nor swifter greyhound follow,
- Whose footprints ne'er tainted* morning
- Nor ear heard huntsman's "Hallo,"
- Old Tiney, surliest of his kiond,
- 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 showers,
- Or when a storm drew near.
- Eight years and five round-rolling moons
- He thus saw steal away,
- Dozing out his idle noons,
- And every night at play.
- I kept him for his humor'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.
- William Cowper
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