RIFLE PRACTICE a Poem
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RIFLE PRACTICE a Poem

RIFLE PRACTICE a Poem




      

RIFLE PRACTICE a Poem


RIFLE PRACTICE

IT is a thousand yards away!
Sight well your piece, as if there lay
In ambush close a sharpshooter
Lurking beneath a forest fir;
A picket-guard, a scout, a spy,
With levell'd tube and practised eye,
With steady nerve and vision true,
Intent to send a ball at you.

Shoot quick, yet careful be your aim,
Your target is no forest game;
But a tried soldier, train'd to war,
And skill'd to slay his foe afar.
Seel in the shimmering sunbeam
An evanescent rifle gleam!
Be sure its sudden flame will leap,
Be sure its whistling ball will sweep;
Then shoot, but with deliberate art,
Or soon the death may reach your heart.

Sight well your piece, as if there lay
A deer five hundred yards away,
A noble stag with antler crown'd,
Scornful of steed or yelping hound,
For oft his hoofs have led the chase
Triumphant in the headlong race.
Steadfast and stately see him stand,
With head erect, in stature grand,
Pawing the turf in angry rage,
Tossing his horn, a battle-gage!
Threatening your body to impale
If nerve should shake or ball should fail;
Imagine that your target-aim
Is levell'd at such mighty game.

Sight well your piece, as if a bear,
Growling and grim, were in his lair
His eyeballs glaring on his prey
And you but twenty yards away;
See the great, crooked iron claw,
The churning foam of grizzly jaw!
See how the eyes flash lurid flame.
Imagine then such monster game
Confronts you; and if tremors shake

Your nerves, remember life's at stake.
Sight well your piece, as if a plain,
A prairie, stretch'd its vast domain,
Where far and wide as eye may glance
Rolls out a limitless expanse.
No friendly woods their glooms extend
To the horizon's azure end;
Naught but the billowy slopes display
Their grassy hillocks round the way;
No yawning chasm or gulch to yield
A refuge in that dreary field;
While there, in fancy, you behold
A tawny bison, grim and old,
With savage eye and lashing tail
That beats his flanks as with a flail,
Raging to toss with horn in air
The foe that would his fury dare.
Ah! steady then be hand and aim;
For death or life you stake the game!

Hold firm your piece! In fancy stand
Far off in Asiatic land,
In tangles of pineapple rove,
Palmetto jungle, bamboo grove,
Where wave the frills of pallid fern
And orchids with gay colors burn,
Where cocoanuts their crowns upthrow,
Areca-palma their fronds of snow,
And there in that weird forest hall,
Confront the tiger of Bengal,
The royal tiger, strip'd and grim,
With blazing eye and crouching limb.
Then quick the aim and sure the shot,
Or you shall perish on the spot!


McLellan, Isaac. Poems of the Rod and Gun. New York: Henry Thorpe, 1886.

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