THE HUNTSMAN – Critical Appreciation of the Poem

THE HUNTSMAN – (Edward Lowbury)

What does Edward Lowbury want to say in this poem?

The present poem is based on a Kenyan folklore and carries a moral lesson that one should not talk too much. The poem narrates the story of a tragedy of a hunter. He is a hunter of lions, but the stroke of luck, he becomes a prey. The poem throws light on the fact that lie is a complicated affair. It is full of unexpected situations and mysterious facts. Sometimes it happens that the hunter becomes the hunted. The poem also points out that talking is a good thing but one should not talk too much. A man must be careful before he speaks. He must think before he speaks.

The poem hint at the fact the Kagwa should not have spoken to the king. Kagwa spoke to the king to a carelessness and foolishness manner. That is why, he met his death. Kagwa did not know this fact. Had the known this fact, he would not have met his misfortune.

The poem contains the elements of sick humour. It is also full of the elements of suspense and supernatural. The presence of the talking skull inspires dread in us. We try to know the mystery of the talking skull but fail. The end of the story of Kagwa is tragic indeed. The hunter becomes the hunted and his tragic death has a shocking effect on the mind of the reader. Deep irony runs through the poem. The irony of the poem is hidden in the fact that the hunter in the end and has to lose his life. Like all folk tales, it has a hidden message to convey to the readers. The poet suggests that we must be careful in our conversation with others.


The poet uses very beautifully the elements of irony and suspense in the poem. Comment.
Relate briefly how the huntsman becomes a victim of cruel fate.

Irony is literary device which shows the reversal of the situation. It is also meant to show the unexpected results of an action based on innocence and good intentions. The huntsman Kagwa was a great hunter instead of hunting a new prey and he himself becomes a victim of his cruel fate. It is his ignorance of the naked realities of life that leads him to his ultimate ruin.

The poem describes that he is simple person. He has good health. He is physically strong but he lacks wisdom. When he sees talking skull, he is emotionally excited. He must have control over his sentiments. He does not know that kings are trustworthy people. He goes to the king and tells him about the talking skull. The talking skull has told him about the reason of his death. He must have realized that he same loose and careless talk could have brought death to him. He talks to the king in a carefree manner and does not keep in mind the advice of the talking skull. This becomes the basis of irony in the story. If he had been wise, he must not have told the king about the talking skull.

The suspense of the story is quite obvious in the last lines of the poem. ‘Talking brought met here’. It was careless and loose talk which was responsible for the death of the talking skull. This secret has been unfolded by the talking skull. Kagwa does not follow his advice. He tries to learn the same secret at the cost of his own life. This is the suspense of the story. The reader waits a long for the end of Kagwa’s story. His story ends with the end of his life.


1. Do you know that fate is cruel? How?
2. Do you find any element of fear in the poem? Write you own assessment in 60 words.

Quotations and references for this poem

1) “Speech is silver, silence is gold.”
2) “When a man wants to hunt a tiger he calls it sport; when a tiger kills him he calls it ferocity”.
3) The wise man knows that he knows nothing; the fool knows he knows all.
4) Sorrows, like babies, grow bigger by nursing.
5) Give every man thy ear, but few to thy voice.

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