Longer Narrative Poems
By Josie Whitehead
THE LEGEND OF GELERT
Legend adapted to poetry
By Josie Whitehead
Come gather you round and then listen well,
For I have here a story which I feel I should tell -
Of a prince and princess and of their baby son
And a deed, quite horrendous, committed by one.
But I’ll tell you the story from beginning to end,
So now pin back your ears and listen my friend:
On the banks of the Conwy, in a palace of stone,
Lived Llywelyn the Great and his young Princess Joan.
When the fair Princess Joan arrived on his scene,
She brought a large wolfhound from King John and his Queen.
This magnificent animal, with legs lithe and long,
Was powerful, agile and had jaws that were strong.
The prince and his hound were inseparable friends
And he knew that on Gelert he could truly depend.
With others they both loved to hunt the wild deer,
And, of all of his wolfhounds, his favourite was clear.
The faithful grey dog seldom strayed from his side,
And Llywelyn the Great would stroke him with pride.
The trust in each other was obvious to all,
But one day, I’m afraid, a sad thing did befall.
One day in late autumn, whilst hunting the deer,
Gelert went missing, and it was obviously clear
That when calling and whistling was all quite in vain,
The party of huntsmen should turn homeward again.
Not one could imagine what scene would await
As they came to the lodge and went in through the gate,
For panting and limping on his massive great paws
Came Gelert with blood dripping down from his jaws.
An awful thought ran through Llywelyn’s shocked mind.
He then fled to the nursery and in there did find
His baby son’s cradle had been overturned
And a feeling of anger inside him soon burned.
The cradle lay empty, with blood on the floor.
Llywelyn felt frantic and ran through the door.
He’d seen the torn bedding and blood on the ground
And with anguish his head quickly started to pound.
He sped from the chamber, heart set on revenge.
The death of his small son he’d surely avenge!
With sword in his hand, and with considerable speed
He plunged at the hound that had done this foul deed.
In a pool of red blood, as his wolfhound lay dying,
There came from the nursery the faint sound of crying.
The infant, unharmed, and a long way from dead,
Was fully protected ‘neath his small cradle bed.
But what lay beside him, quite dead on the ground?
A wolf with its throat ripped was what they all found.
So Gelert the faithful, in a most violent fray
Had killed this grey monster earlier that day.
His reward for protecting his master’s small son
Was a deed, so ferocious, that could not be undone.
Gelert died at the hands of his most trusted friend,
Who’d received his devotion right through to his end.
This loyal dog’s grave is today marked by stones,
And there you will find just the skeleton bones
Of the very best friend that God gave to mankind –
Most faithful, courageous - but, so sadly *maligned.
Copyright on all my poems
* maligned: rejected; abused - treated badly or judged unfairly.