The poem is divided in three parts by the poet from the beginning and each part has a fixed topic.
The first part is a description of the major religions in England during Dryden’s time. The poem starts by presenting the hind, a pure creature, being followed and often haunted by hounds. The hind represents the Catholic Church while the panther is the Anglican Church. Next, he describes the bear as the independents are described as bests, the atheists are described as a buffoon ape, then the Baptists as a boar. Next, the poet explains why he chose to switch to Catholicism, arguing that the hind is more pure than the panther. The first part ends when the hind and the panther meet.
The second part is a controversial dialogue between the Hind and the Panther as they stroll together.
The last part of the poem is composed of two fables, told by the Hind and the Panther. The Panther starts by telling the story of the Swallows who were destroyed because they followed the advice given by the Martins and then the Hind tells the fable of the Buzzard, an allegory towards the savagery of the Anglican Party.