The Huntsman by Edward Lowbury

Kagwa hunted the lion,

                Through bush and forest went his spear.

One day he found the skull of a man

 And said to it, “How did you come here?”

The skull opened its mouth and said,

 ‘Talking brought me here.’


Kagwa hurried home;

                Went to the king’s chair and spoke:

‘In the forest I found a talking skull.’

                The king was silent. Then he said slowly,

‘Never since I was born of my mother

 Have I seen or heard of a skull which spoke.’


The king called out his guards:

 ‘              Two of you now go with him

And find this talking skull;

                But if his tale is a lie

And the skull speaks no word,

                This Kagwa himself must die’


They rode into the forest;

                For days and nights they found nothing.

At last they saw the skull; Kagwa

                Said to it, “How did you come here?”

The skull said nothing. Kagwa implored,

                But the skull said nothing.


The guards said, ‘Kneel down.’

                They killed him with sword and spear.

Then the skull opened it’s mouth;

                ‘Huntsman, how did you come here?’

And the dead man answered,

 ‘Talking brought me here.’

"The Huntsman" has been composed by the modern English poet Edward Lowbury. It is based on an African folklore which explains the uncertainty of human life. The poem is an evidence of imaginative richness and psychological insight of the poet. It is also full of suspense mystery and supernatural. The poet tells us the mysterious story of a famous hunter Kagwa, who was fond of talking. 

He lost his life due to talking needlessly. Kagwa used to hunt loin in the forest. One day when he was wandering in the forest he came across the skull of a dead man. Kagwa was surprised to see that skull and asked what had brought it there. The skull opened its mouth and told that talking had brought it there. But he failed to understand the meaning of these words.

Kagwa was a simple fellow and could not conceal this unusual discovery. Immediately, he went to the king and told him this unbelievable incident. The king suspected the truth of his story but sent two guards with him. He instructed them if his story proved false the hunter must be put to death. They explore the forest for many days and nights. At last they found the skull. The hunter asked it the same question again but the skull remained silent. Kagwa requested the skull gain and again to speak and save his life but the skull did not answer. The king's men promptly killed the hunter there and punished him for his talkative tongue. At that moment the skull openedits mouth and asked Kagwa how he had come there. The dead man answered "Talking brought me here'.

The general atmosphere of the poem is gloomy and fearful. The presence of a talking skull and the killing of the hunter terrify us. The message in the poem is that one should be very careful when talking to others and especially to men of authority.