I recently saw this sitting hare on the thatched roof at an address in Therfield near Royston, where I was sweeping a couple of chimneys. Hares seem to be the most common of animals that are represented on thatched roofs. I suppose this is because they are representative and emblematic of the English countryside and country pastimes. Close to the heart of country people as it were.
I found this lovely poem about Hares on the internet:
Runner in the Snow By Jeremy Wyatt
The Queen of Winter looked about,
tinged with sorrow, touched by doubt.
The time of change was in the air,
a keen smell dancing through her hair.
Springtimes breath should fill her dreams,
casting spells of summers peace,
as with her court she, serene sleeps,
awaiting on autumns counsel fair.
But troubled now, her gaze is sharp,
what things are come forth from the dark.
Drawn uncalled by winters cold,
things unholy, things too old.
Prowling in the biting frost,
preying on unwary lost.
“there is a way,” she says to all,
“to reawaken springs fair call.
I need a braveheart, strong and true,
to carry springtimes promise through!”
None spoke, none moved, all-fearing stood,
then from beneath Her throne of wood,
And there was an unlooked for guest,
a small young Hare to take the quest,
And she remembered then his face,
beneath last years fall of leaves.
A little leverett, bereft, born too late,
so sadly left, but seen by chance.
Compassion in the great ones glance.
Set free to tumble in the spring,
to run and dance, and dream and sing.
But wise to evils coming threat,
returned to pay his debt.
“I’ll carry springtimes welcome song,
my eyes are bright, my legs are strong,
and though I know you dread I’ll fail,
a faithful heart can but prevail!”
A speech of such unwitting grace,
that tears did stain the lady’s face.
“So little one, you made a choice,
how gentle is your sweet young voice,
and I instill my strength and love,
to bear your burden far.
And if you fall, the world will know,
my tears of ice will stain the snow.”
A little bag of felt was made,
new boots of doeskin,
laced and tied,
a cap to cover well his head,
and then the time,
to face the dread.
“Into this bag I place the spring,
no feather weight, no little thing,
though sadness wishes you could tarry,
this burden forth we ask you carry.”
And so with spells of love and care,
out into winter sped our hare.
Through the secret postern gate,
into unremitting hate,
dreading not the rising fear,
but only that the spring was late.
Trotting lightly over snow,
the little lad did boldly go,
leaving lightest prints behind,
nothing for the Beasts to find.
But, stirring in the darker woods,
creatures of despair still stood.
Crawling, stooping, no poise or grace,
evil made a start to chase,
our little hare, who, so well aware,
kept a steady pace.
Beasts of the pit, deep in the earth,
smother life with their dark curse,
drawn to light to look askance,
hating their own long lost chance.
Breaking through and into sight,
using all the darkest might,
straining fibre, blood and bone
to **** our little hare.
Dancing, swerving, to and fro,
Is he caught? Ah through, now go!
How can one so slim and small,
battle evil spirits tall?
But, from towers far above,
flows an ancient, caring love.
Sending creatures of the woods,
fight the evil with their good,
crows and eagles, claws and beaks,
wolves and foxes, strength and teeth.
Fighting now for what they chased,
and grateful for his speed unceased.
” Pass beyond us, little hare,
and we will turn and, face the stare!
Whatever evil comes to pass,
we dream of springtimes fragrant grass”
So captains of the wood as one,
stand together as they come,
though many fall not to arise,
they battled evils changing guise.
None pass unmissed, she sees them fall,
The Ice Queen marks their everyfall.
The breathless runner toils anew,
oh can he take this burden through?
the night is falling dark and fast,
and still dark forces are amassed.
New foes astir, claw at his feet,
sharp teeth snap, and call deceit,
arms of knotted sinew strain,
to clutch, to grasp, but still in vain!
Our little hero runs so swift,
at each new threat his own pace lifts.
Cut and wounded by the beasts,
ragged ears, and bleeding feet,
nothing slows the running hare,
“come, you catch me if you dare!”
he gasps beneath a fell beasts stare…
Then, coming slowly into view,
a wondrous sight, and hope anew,
a woodland tinged with shades of green,
could this be spring, will he get through?
And now the Green Man of the spring,
sees the chase and starts to sing,
“Come all my peoples of warm earth,
we’ll war these beasts of death and dearth!”
Flashing eyes, and racing foes,
to battle now for good they go.
Now at the Green Mans feet hare lies,
the light now fading from his eyes,
his burden passed to hands of care,
all gaze with wonder, little hare!
His duty done, his race is run,
it’s now his time to die.
But from afar, a Snow Maids call,
“this once, Man listen to my call,
I’ll ask of you no other thing,
than heal this creature, let us sing!”
Together, distant words that heal,
renew the turning of lifes wheel,
The young hare races, where he will,
Watch, and you’ll see him, running still