Foret des Dames
"I come to these parts for the hunting, of course,"
Said the mild old man in the Harris tweeds,
Smoking his big Bavarian pipe
At the sunny close of the afternoon,
Perched on his shooting stick among sorrel
And kingcups down in the river field.
"Perhaps you've heard of the Questing Beast‑
A bit like a lion, a bit like a goat,
A bit like a serpent‑ yes that's the one.
Well I've been after it thirty years.
It's rife round here." He paused; his eyes
Were suddenly shrewd and straight to the point.
"You're Pellinore," I ventured.
And you are lost and hoping I'll show you
The way to
He rolled it out like a breaking wave.
"That's right," I said, surprised he knew.
He smiled. "Ah well, I'd be happy to take you
Part of the way. We're going to go
Through the Foret des Dames." He pointed his pipe
At the wall of trees above the field.
"It's full of the ghosts of silly women;
Harmless enough, but a bit of a nuisance‑
Worse than these midges." He rose and flicked
His shooting stick from the turf and sloped it
Over his shoulder.
We crossed the field
And climbed the stile in a blackthorn hedge
And entered the wood.
A grainy, even,
Subaqueous light enveloped us.
It was cool and damp with wood‑doves calling
Far and near. We waded in
Through lush greenery, briars and branches
Plucking our sleeves.