Sport! Harbinger of health, relief from care,
Whether enjoyed on mountain, moor, or stream,
In dale, in brake, on ocean, or in air,
Youths gay pursuit, and Age's pleasing dream,
Still, joy-inspiring Sport, thou art my theme!
The pensive lamp let poring schoolmen waste,
And wake long nights, to earn a vain esteem,
While from my heather bed I bound in haste,
Roused by the lark, to hail the morn's reviving beam.
Yet have I known the wisest quench the lamp,
Impatient for the sport approaching morn,
And bold defiance bid to cold and damp,
Dashing the pearly dew-drop from the thorn,
To the shrill music of the early horn:
Blest union! wisdom, health, and sport combined,
Sly Renard's brush in cap of knowledge worn;
Such marvels days of yore recall to mind,
Down the swift stream of time irrevocably borne.
Blythe, at the dawn the sportsman mounts his steed;
And hark! the yelling pack to Cover flies,
Eager he sees the waste of Renard's speed,
And shouts his triumph when the traitor dies,
While Echo to the voice and horn replies.
Perchance he joys to hear the heath-cock crow,
And mark his ebon plumage glancing rise,
To lay with levelled tube his glories low,
Or see him spring transfixed like arrow to the skies.
But now the Sun declines on Auchinfoyle,
And one long day of moorland pastime ends —
A various day of pleasure, and of toil:
From Shearlings low the evening smoke ascends,
And home his way the weary sportsman wends.
O! emblem meet of fragile man's career,
Who his vain hours in sport and labour spends;
The same, alas! a day — a month — an year:
Fate every joy with toil, and disappointment blends.
John Colin Dunlop (1785-1842), ca. 1805
from Poems on Several Occasions, 1836
John Colin Dunlop biography