The Huntsman – Summary by Sir Naeem

The narrative poem “The Huntsman” is based on a Kenyan folklore. The poet “Edward Lawbury” advises us through the story of a Kenyan hunter, Kagwa who himself becomes the prey to fate, to avoid the unnecessary talk. Kagwa was a hunter of lions and he used to hunt through bush and forest with his spear. One day he found a human skull and asked it how it had come there in the forest.

The skull opened its mouth and replied that the habit of talking had brought it there. He hurriedly went to the king’s court and told the king about this miraculous discovery. The king expressed his doubts about the truth of the tale. Instead of granting Kagwa a prize, the king called out his guards and ordered two of them to accompany Kagwa and search for the talking skull. The king further ordered them to kill Kagwa if such a strange skull was not found there.

Kagwa and two guards rode through the jungle for many days and nights but they could find nothing. At last, they found a skull, Kagwa asked it how it had come there. But the skull did not answer. Kagwa began to implore. But the skull remained silent. Upon this the guards ordered Kagwa to kneel down and they killed him in compliance with the kings orders. After it the skull opened its mouth and asked Kagwa, how he had come there. The dead Kagwa answered that talking brought him there. In this way the story of Kagwa proved the
old maxim, “Think before you speak”. No doubt useless and irresponsible talk bring disaster for the talkative one.
The poem is a sad example of sick humour. After going through it we experience mixed feelings of humour and regret at the same time. Funny and unfunny aspects of life blended with the elements of suspense and irony create a shocking impact. The poem also describes the attitude of dictators and can be called a political satire. As it is shown that the dictators never like common people’s talk. They do not believe in anything without certifying it in their own way. Narrative style, end stopped lines, monosyllabic words and proper stanzac form provide this free verse an impressive out look. The poet is successful in drawing our attention to the tragic fact of life. 

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