by Eugene Field
(A BALLAD IN THE ANGLO-SAXON TONGUE)
When to the dreary greenwood gloam
Winfreda's husband strode that day,
The fair Winfreda bode at home
To toil the weary time away;
"While thou art gone to hunt," said she,
"I'll brew a goodly sop for thee."
Lo, from a further, gloomy wood,
A hungry wolf all bristling hied
And on the cottage threshold stood
And saw the dame at work inside;
And, as he saw the pleasing sight,
He licked his fangs so sharp and white.
Now when Winfreda saw the beast,
Straight at the grinning wolf she ran,
And, not affrighted in the least,
She hit him with her cooking pan,
And as she thwacked him on the head--
"Scat! scat!" the fair Winfreda said.
The hills gave answer to their din--
The brook in fear beheld the sight.
And all that bloody field within
Wore token of Winfreda's might.
The wolf was very loath to stay--
But, oh! he could not get away.
Winfreda swept him o'er the wold
And choked him till his gums were blue,
And till, beneath her iron hold,
His tongue hung out a yard or two,
And with his hair the riven ground
Was strewn for many leagues around.
They fought a weary time that day,
And seas of purple blood were shed,
Till by Winfreda's cunning lay
That awful wolf all limp and dead;
Winfreda saw him reel and drop--
Then back she went to brewing sop.
So when the husband came at night
From bootless chase, cold, gaunt, and grim,
Great was that Saxon lord's delight
To find the sop dished up for him;
And as he ate, Winfreda told
How she had laid the wolf out cold.
The good Winfreda of those days
Is only "pretty Birdie" now--
Sickly her soul and weak her ways--
And she, to whom we Saxons bow,
Leaps on a bench and screams with fright
If but a mouse creeps into sight.
Last updated January 14, 2019