The Poem ‘The Huntsman’ by Edward Lowbury as a Reflection of Common Human Weaknesses

This post consists of two answers given by two G.C.E. (O/L) students. These answers will be helpful for the readers to analyse the answers of students and these two students have brought forward some brilliant points to ponder. The credit should go for them and the comment section is open for you to comment on their work which will be a great support for them to improve their writings.


The poem The Huntsman is a humorous poem which discusses about human weaknesses written by Edward Lowbury. Discuss this statement in relation to the poem.


Answer of Dinethya

The Huntsman is a very interesting poem which is written by Edward Lawbury. By this poem poet describes about certain major human weaknesses. This reveals about a hunter called Kagwa and his unbelievable experience.

There are many human weaknesses inside any human. Excessive talking is a massive human weakness. This poem tells of the bad result caused by excessive talking. Excessive worthless talking brings destruction. This message is very common but how many people would listen to this advice is the issue. In the poem, when Kagwa was hunting in the forest, he found a skull of a man:

“one day he found a skull of a man,

and said to it, ‘how did you come here?’

It is obvious that anyone knows that dead skull cannot talk or have a conversation. However, the skull discovered by Kagwa can speak. Knowing that the skull can speak, he starts a conversation with the skull. It is clear that this is a kind of an unnecessary talking. The poet may depict the result caused by unnecessary talking with an unsuitable thing or a person at the beginning of the poem.

The old generation advised to think twice before speaking; because once spoken, the words cannot be withdrawn into the mouth again. As seen in the poem, Kagwa brings that news to the king in the palace to get a prize by revealing his discovery. The king replies:

“Never since I was born of my mother

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

Kagwa was too affected by the vary weakness of human. He immediately brings the news into the king’s ears without thinking about the consequences of the unbelievable story he relates. Edward Lawbury depicts the negative results arise by such human weakness.

The king could not believe the news Kagwa related. From there, the negative consequences arise merely because of a common human weakness. Kagwa has put his life into danger for falling into a weak human quality. The king sends Kagwa with the guards to find about the skull imposing a condition:

“But if his tale is a lie,

And the skull speaks no word

This Kagwa himself must die.”

After a tiresome journey, they found the skull. However, ‘The skull said nothing, Kagwa implored.” When Kagwa asked the question from the skull, it says nothing. He must have understood the advice and warning given by the skull by then. In this point, the poet, Lowbury might be trying to highlight the advice to think twice before act. Not doing so is a common human mistake. The repeated humorous ending might suggest that:

“Then the skull opened its mouth;

‘Huntsman, how did you come here?’

And the dead man answered,

‘Talking brought me here.’

After facing the consequences of excessive and worthless talking, the poet comes up with moral message using grim irony. Had Kagwa thought what the skull said initially, he would have not faced such a fate. Overall, Edward Lowbury highlights the golden message ‘speech is silver, silence is golden;’ not following that is a common human weakness.  


Answer of Ishra

The huntsman by Edward Lowbury is a humorous poem which discusses about human weaknesses. The poet gives a great advice to the society through the poem. The poet at first gives an image of a brave hunter: “Kagwa hunted the lion/Through bush and forest went his spear.” This shows his bravery but one day on his usual tour of hunting, he found something unusual:

“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.”

The above extract clearly explains a human weakness. Even though Kagwa, the huntsman is a brave person, but it seems like he is ignorant. The fact is that usually a dead person never speaks nor a skull can speak. However, this huntsman was foolish enough to speak to the skull. Being ignorant is one of the human weaknesses mentioned in the poem.

After the incident of speaking with a skull, Kagwa was excited and he quickly went to the king’s chair and informed the king. Kagwa might have thought that, in hearing the story he would get a reward:

“Kagwa hurried home;

Went to the king’s chair and spoke:

‘In the forest I found a talking skull.’

Through the above extract, the poet gives an idea that before speaking or doing something, you have to think twice about it. The saying: ‘think twice before you act.’ suits to the above extract of the poem. Here the poet shows the main human weakness, being quick and not thinking twice before doing something. As well as taking quick decisions might lead to hazardous situations:

“…find this talking skull;

But if his tale is a lie

And the skull speaks no word,

This Kagwa himself must die.”

The above extract gives the outcome of the quick decision taken by the huntsman. Finally, if the skull did not speak a word, he would have to sacrifice his life.

“At last they saw the skull; Kagwa

Said to it ‘how did you come here?’

The skull said nothing. Kagwa implored,”

The above extract show that what Kagwa saw and heard was a hint given to him but he failed to understand the hint.Taking quick decisions ended with a hazardous situation and Kagwa lost his life. Soon after guards left:

“…the skull opened its mouth;

‘Huntsman how did you come here?’

And the dead man replied,

‘Talking brought me here.”

The hint given by the skull was not to speak before thinking but as huntsman failed to understand this he too got into the same trouble that the skull had faced.

The moral of this poem is to think twice before you speak. No one is perfect even the bravest person who hunted a lion had to die because of a funny story of a skull which spoke. Even though the poem ‘the huntsman’ by Edward Lowbury is a humorous poem, it depicts about human weaknesses and gives great advices to the society.

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