beast of game

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smmichael

Senior Member
Hi everyone,
in 'The Lady of the Lake' by Walter Scott I encountered the following (here is the context):

<-----Excess quote removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->
'Bold words!—but, though the beast of game
The privilege of chase may claim,
Though space and law the stag we lend
Ere hound we slip or bow we bend
<…>


The meaning of the part in italics remained unclear as a whole and the meaning of 'the beast of game' in particular. Who and why does the speaker compare with a stag and a prowling fox?
Though I see it is a poetical language, still I would like to understand the allusions of this verse.
Thank you!
 
Last edited by a moderator:
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    "game" here is related to this meaning from the Word Reference dictionary:
    12 wild animals, including birds and fishes, such as are hunted for food or for sport or profit.
    The stag and the fox are wild animals that might be hunted.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Welcome to the forum, SMM. Put into modern English prose it would look something like this:
    Though the hunting of game animals (stag, boar, fox, etc.) is governed by rules which give them a head start before we the hunters even set off with our dogs and bows ...
    This is a very specialized meaning of law:
    an allowance of time or distance given a quarry or competitor in a race, as the head start given a fox before the hounds are set after it.
    (Definition 21, about halfway down the page.)
    I can't see any foxes in your quote:(
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I would clarify one thing: While the stag and the boar may be game, which gentlemen hunt according to set rules (including those that forbid poaching, etc.), the speaker makes it clear that a "prowling fox" is not game, but is instead a type of vermin that may be killed without anyone caring about it-- and the same is true of "treacherous scouts", or spies.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Presumably the prowling fox and treacherous scouts happen somewhere outside the quote.
    They complete the sentence which is begun, but not finished, in the quote:

    Who ever recked, where, how, or when/ the prowling fox was trapped or slain?/ Thus treacherous scouts -- yet sure they lie/ who say thou cam'st a secret spy!
     

    smmichael

    Senior Member
    <-----Off-topic comment removed by moderator (Florentia52)----->

    If I understand it correctly, the quote means that the one who speaks compares the appeared wanderer with a prowling fox (in other words - treacherous scout?) which makes it acceptable for him to slay the wanderer straight away?
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I'm sorry, I have found that the complete quote had been cut by the moderator :)

    If I understand it correctly, the quote means that the one who speaks compares the appeared wanderer with a prowling fox (in other words - treacherous scout?) which makes it acceptable for him to slay the wanderer straight away?
    No. It says that if he were a spy, he could be killed instantly -- however, surely it would be a lie to say that he is one.
     
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