Ful erly bifore the day the folk uprysen,
Gestes that go wolde hor gromez thay calden,
And thay busken up bilyve blonkkez to sadel,
Tyffen her takles, trussen her males,
Richen hem the rychest, to ryde alle arayde,
Lepen up lightly, lachen her brydeles,
Uche wyghe on his way ther hym wel lyked.
The leve lorde of the londe watz not the last
Arayed for the rydyng, with renkkes ful mony;
Ete a sop hastyly, when he hade herde masse,
With bugle to bent-felde he buskez bylyve.
By that any daylyght lemed upon erthe
He with his hatheles on hyghe horsses weren.
Thenne thise cacheres that couthe cowpled hor houndez,
Unclosed the kenel dore and calde hem theroute,
Blwe bygly in buglez thre bare mote;
Braches bayed therfore and breme noyse maked;
And thay chastysed and charred on chasyng that went,
A hundreth of hunteres, as I haf herde telle,
of the best.
To trystors vewters yod,
Couples huntes of kest;
Ther ros for blastez gode
Gret rurd in that forest.

At the fyrst quethe of the quest quaked the wylde;
Der drof in the dale, doted for drede,
Highed to the hyghe, bot heterly thay were
Restayed with the stablye, that stoutly ascryed.
Thay let the herttez haf the gate, with the hyghe hedes,
The breme bukkez also with hor brode paumez;
For the fre lorde hade defende in fermysoun tyme
That ther schulde no mon meve to the male dere.
The hindez were halden in with hay! and war!
The does dryven with gret dyn to the depe sladez.
Ther myght mon se, as thay slypte, slenting of arwes -
At uche wende under wande wapped a flone -
That bigly bote on the broun with ful brode hedez.
What! thay brayen and blenden, bi bonkkez thay deyen,
And ay rachches in a res radly hem folwes,
Hunterez wyth hyghe home hasted hem after
Wyth such a crakkande kry as klyffes haden brusten.
What wyIde: so atwaped wyghes that schotten
Watz al toraced and rent at the resayt,
Bi thay were tened at the hyghe and taysed to the wattres;
The ledez were so lerned at the lowe trysteres,
And the grehoundez so grete, that geten hem bylyve
And hem tofylched, as fast as frekez myght loke,
The lorde for blys abloy
Ful ofte con launce and lyght,
And drof that day wyth joy
Thus to the derk nyght.



Before the day dawned, the household was up.
The guests who were going called for their grooms,
Who hastened to saddle horses at once,
Prepare their equipment, and pack up their bags.
The noblest get ready to ride, finely dressed;
Nimbly they mount, taking hold of their bridles,
Each man riding out on the path he liked best.
The loved lord of the region was not the last up
To be ready for riding, with a great many men;
He snatched a quick breakfast, when he'd heard mass
. Bugles blowing, he eagerly makes for the fields of the hunt.
By the time that the daylight had dawned upon earth,
He and his men were mounted on horse.
Experienced huntsmen coupled the hounds,
Unlocked the kennel door and ordered them out,
And blew on their bugles three single notes;
Hounds bayed in response and made a fierce noise;
Those that went straying were whipped and turned back
By a hundred hunters, so I have been told,
of the best.
Keepers went to their posts,
The huntsmen unleashed;
Blasting horns spread
Huge din in the woods.

At the first sound of baying, the wild creatures trembled.
Deer fled from the valley, crazy with fear,
Raced up the high ground - but were fiercely turned back
By the ring of the beaters, who yelled at them savagely.
They let the stags pass, with their high-antlered heads,
And the fierce bucks as well, with their broad and flat horns;
For the lord had forbidden that in the close season
Any man interfere with any male deer.
The hinds were held back with a 'hey!' and a 'whoa!',
The does driven rowdily down the deep valleys.
There you might see the rushing of arrows loosened from bows.
At each turn in the wood, a shaft whistled by,
Bit deep in their hides with its very broad head.
How they scream and they bleed as they die on the slopes,
And always the hounds are hard on their heels.
The hunters with shattering horns race behind
With such ear-splitting cries as if cliffs had collapsed.
The beasts that escaped the men shooting at them
Were all savaged and torn at the receiving points,
Harried off from the high ground, driven down to the streams.
So skilled were the men at the lower points
And the greyhounds so big, that they caught them at once
And tore them apart, fast as men could look on,
right there.
The lord, filled with delight,
On horseback, on foot,
Spent the whole day in pleasure
Till the dark of night fell.


Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

To read the whole translation click

Transl. copyright © Tim Chilcott 2003

translator's next