The hounds, you know them all by name.
You fostered them from purblind whelps
At their dam’s teats, and you have come
To know the music of their yelps:
High-strung Anthee, the brindled bitch,
The blue-tick coated Philomel,
And freckled Chloe, who would fetch
A pretty price if you would sell—
All fleet of foot, and swift to scent,
Inexorable once on the track,
Like angry words you might have meant,
But do not mean, and can’t take back.
There was a time when you would brag
How they would bay and rend apart
The hopeless belling from a stag.
You falter now for the foundered hart.
Desires you nursed of a winter night—
Did you know then why you bred them—
Whose needling milk-teeth used to bite
The master’s hand that leashed and fed them?
- A.E. Stallings
I love when Poetry Out Loud rolls around each year, because not only are all my students learning and performing poems themselves, but I too get to troll the site for a new one to memorize alongside them.
I honestly knew nothing about A.E. Stallings when I stumbled upon this one: Where have I been??
And this is my front-runner in terms of personal attraction, but I'm wondering if using a poem with both "teats" and "bitch" in it will divert some of my ninth graders' attention. Hmmm...
It's well worth enjoying for all of us here though, especially those of you with a classics background. Actaeon was a hunter who displeased Artemis. The most prominent version of his legend notes that one day, while he was out on a hunt, he stumbled upon a naked Artemis while she was bathing in a pond. He stood and gaped at her beauty, but she, offended, cursed him thus: if he spoke a word, a single word, he would be turned into a stag. When, fleeing, he heard the others in his hunting party and reflexively called out to them, a stag he did become, whereupon his own dogs tore him to bits. Pleasant, eh? But I thought you should know...
MFB, out loud,