|By Iain Muir
|The moor lies drowned in the moonlight,
The mist lies deep and still.
A hunter’s moon rides above the trees
That crown the crest of the hill.
The road is a ribbon of darkness,
That threads across the moor,
An ink-black ribbon of darkness,
That leads to the ale-house door.
Hear them now, hear the rushing footsteps,
Hear it now, hear his laboured breath!
See him now, as he breaks through the hedgerows,
See him now, as he races his death!
Hear behind him the thunder of hoof beats,
Hear the howling and baying of hounds,
And now through the mist gently parting,
See them rushing to run him to ground.
Through the mist glowing with the moon-silver,
From the darkness of some other world,
Rides the foremost of all the Queen’s huntsmen,
From his forehead the dark antlers curled.
To punish the high crime of trespass,
His mistress has bidden him ride.
She’s sent forth the Wild Hunt’s legions,
To punish a young mortal’s pride.
For he’d entered my lady Queen’s chambers,
Dared to spy on her there as she bathed,
Thought he’s ‘scape from the glamours of Faerie,
Return home to England unscathed.
He thought not of guardian enchantments
That showed her the place where he hid.
She screamed out a demand for vengeance,
Vengeance for all that he did.
So he ran for the Hollow Hill’s entrance,
Through the hallways of echoing stone.
Ran to escape to the mortal realm,
Beyond the reach of her throne.
Titania summoned her Huntsman,
Called for her Huntsman, Herne,
Told him to track down the mortal,
That for his crimes he should burn!
Swiftly they saddled their horses,
Swiftly prepared them to ride,
Swore that they’d track down the mortal,
Wherever that young man should hide.
See him now as he staggers for safety,
See him now as he runs for the door.
See him now as he slips on the pavement,
And lays himself out on the floor.
See the white hounds closing upon him:
White teeth and tongues deepest red.
Our lad scrambles to find his feet:
If he stays down, he knows he is dead.
See him now as he rattles the door-latch,
Hear his cries as he beats on the wood.
Watch as he rattles the heavy oak,
That he’d open if only he could.
From her bed climbs the inn-keeper’s daughter,
Seeks for a lantern to light,
Pushes back her long red hear,
Peers through the glass at the night.
Hoof beats ring on the cobbles.
The huntsmen draw reign and dismount,
Calling away the baying hounds,
Their reward beginning to count.
Down the stairs runs the innkeeper’s daughter,
Shoots the bolts back, opens the door.
Into the inn falls our mortal boy,
And collapses onto the floor.
In the doorway stands Herne the Hunter,
Through the doorway he starts to stride.
Baffled, he stands on the doorstep,
Unable to reach the inside.
In the distance now hear the cock crow:
Dawn’s light will soon paint the sky.
Away rush the Hunt to the Hollow Hills,
One last glare Herne’s only goodbye.
The tavern wench turns to the mortal lad,
As he lies in his place on the floor.
His eyes are fixed on a horseshoe:
Cold Iron fixed over the door!