Autumn went faintly flying o’er the land,
Trailing her golden hair along the West,
Weeping to find her waving fields despoil’d,
Her yellow leaves all floating on the wind:
And Winter grim came stalking from the North.
Around the coast rough blasts began to blow,
And toss the seas about in giant sport,
Lurking without to catch unwary sails,
And snap their bellying seams against the mast.
So Guy lay idly waiting in the port,
Gazing out eastward through the stormy mist,
Gazing out eastward morn and closing eve,
Seeking some break amid the hurtling clouds.
But many days the same wind strongly blew,
Keeping his bark close moor’d within the bay,
Jerking the cable, like a restive steed.
And waiting thus impatient to be gone,
Looking out seaward from the dripping wharf,
Strange rumours fill’d his ears, from inland come,
How all the land around his native place
Was devastated by a mighty Beast,
Most terrible to see, and passing strong.
They told him how it slew both man and brute,
Destroying every living thing around,
And laying waste the land for many a mile;
And how ’twas thought no blade, by mortal wrought,
Could cleave its way into the monster’s heart;
And then they told him how his lord the King
Had late proclaim’d through all the country round,
That whosoe’er should slay the noisome Beast,
Should straight be knighted by his kingly sword,
And honour’d greatly in the rescued land.
Yet none was found so stout of heart and limb,
To venture in this perilous emprize;
“But ah!” they said, supposing him far off,
“If famous Guy were here, there were a man
Would rid us of this monster presently.
But as for him, he speeds away through France,
Bearing to other lands his strength, that, faith,
Were better spent at home amongst his kin.”
And still the East wind bluster’d to the shore.
Now Guy, whose ears still tingled all the day
With these strange murmurs of the troubled land,
Began to feel his heart with pity move;
And, for his soul still fretted at delay,
Like a leash’d hound that scents the flying game,
He straight resolved to take this quarrel up,
And for his country’s weal to slay the Beast.
So he arose, girt on his trusty sword,
And with his bow and quiver slung behind,
And at his belt his mighty battle-axe,
Rode calmly forth to slay the hurtful Beast.
And no man knew that he was Guy, for all
Believed him far away on foreign shores;
Which pleased him passing well, “Because,” he said,
“I do this thing for Phoelice and the King,
And none shall know but Heaven that sees the deed.
But when the country feels returning joy,
Her heart will flutter with a secret thought.”