gawainandthegreenknight: (Default)
[personal profile] gawainandthegreenknight
Full early before dawn the folk rose up;
Those guests that would go, they called to their grooms,
And they bustled busily to saddle their steeds,
Tighten their tack and pack up their bags.
Those of highest rank are all arrayed to ride,
Leap lightly to horse, lay hands on the reins,
Each wending his way where he well pleased.
The loved lord of the land was not the last
Arrayed for the riding, with many retainers:
Ate a bite hastily, and when he'd heard mass,
To the broad field, with bugle, he bustles in haste.
By the time any daylight gleamed upon earth,
He and his high lords were on high-bred horses.
Then his handy hunters leashed hounds in couples,
Unclosed the kennel door and called them out,
Blew three bold, strong notes on the bugle;
Hounds bayed back, making brave noise;
Those who went chasing off were checked and chastised.
A hundred hunters, as I have heard tell,
Of the best,
To their stations quickly went;
The hounds uncoupled quest.
The horn the silence rent,
And rang in that forest.

At the first blowing of the quest the wild beasts quaked.
Deer fled in droves through the dale, mad with dread;
Headed for the high ground, but here they were handily
Blocked by the beaters, who boldly bellowed.
They let pass the harts with the high heads,
The breeding bucks also with their broad antlers;
For the lord had forbidden in fermison time
That any man should move to the male deer.
The hinds were held in with "hey!" and "ware!",
The does driven with great din to the deep dells.
There you might see, as they shot, slanting flights of arrows:
At each turn in the wood a shaft struck home,
Broad heads biting deep into the brown hides.
What! They bray and they bleed, and by the banks they die,
And the whole pack of hounds follows hard on their heels.
Hunters with high horns hasted after them,
With cries loud enough to crack the cliffs.
What wild thing won free of the worthy bowmen
Was run down and rent by huntsmen and hounds
Waiting on the high ground to chase them to the waters:
The men at the low stations were so learned,
And the greyhounds so great, that rush to get them
And fell upon them as fast as men might look
Right there.
The lord would chase and toy,
Would gallop and alight
All through that day with joy
Until the dark night.
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October 2010

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