Why do the green-lit woods no longer ring
With the sound of chase and merry hunting horn;
Why do the murm’ring brooks no longer sing
While the verdant glades lie silently forlorn?
Once, as I roamed the forest musing wide,
I came upon a clearing cool and shady
Where I thought to rest, when straight I spied
The leafy bushes part to show a lady
Clad in hunter’s garb – her tunic hitched
Above the knee for tireless legs’ pursuit,
Her dress’s white with laurel leaves was stitched,
Her bow of yew and quiver full behind
Her back were slung, for she hunts the White Hart
That suffers not the deadly dart unkind
Nor lets himself be caught by woodman’s art,
But by naked hands and pure will deign
To let himself be found, by them who seek
In earnest highest guerdon to attain.
Thus she pursued with flushed and ruddied cheek,
For but one moment loveliness herself
Flashed across my ’stonished eye, then passed –
Like silvan dryad or enchanting elf –
In vain I wished that fairy vision would last.
By day I searched both densest briar and thorn
But still her woods did sore deserted seem,
By night I sang like Philomel forlorn
For then she haunted me in restless dreams.
Therefore the cumbersome lute I left behind,
And now instead pursue a higher quest.
And as my feet grow ever swift as hinds’
I hope to meet her where we’ll both from hunting rest.