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The Lay of            Gunter Golden-hair

Hark to the tale of golden-haired Gunter,
Warrior mighty, boldest young hunter,
With helm-crest of red and sharp spurs to his feet,
He swore in this world he'd ne'er suffer defeat.


He sprang from the egg fully-fledged, battle-ready,
Beak hooked and cruel, flinty eyes steady.
From the top of the coop he surveyed his domain,
Lord of the yard, devourer of grain.


Crowing and boasting he strutted about,
Rending the clouds with a challenging shout.
The cats ran off yowling, the dogs slunk away,
The cows and the sheep stuck their heads in the hay.


No chicken was safe from his talons and beak,
He ripped all to shreds, despising the weak.
The peacocks of Juno fled from his roar,
He mounted the peahens, some fifteen or more.


The sparrow, the starling, the blackbird and thrush,
He scattered them all in one wing-whirling rush.
Jupiter's eagle averted his gaze,
He thought he was blinded by Sol's golden rays.


Enthronèd Jove frowned down on young Gunter
Tossed thunderbolts twenty to flatten the hunter,
But the champion returned them, splitting the skies,
Scattering the gods as if they were flies.


Hark now to the doom of golden-haired Gunter,
Bold but ignoble, vicious young hunter.
“He's mine”, whispered Mercury, messenger god,
“I'll teach him some manners, the brutal young clod.”

 

Silver-tongued Mercury slipped down to Earth,
His winged hat and sandals proving their worth.
Invisible hovered beside the barn door,
And called out “Young Gunter, life is good but there's more.”


Intrigued, Gunter sidled around and about,
Determined to find out the source of this shout.
“In death there is power, and prowess and fame,
You'll be ever gloried, all men praise your name.


If you guide them to Hades o'er Lethe and Styx,
Past triple-headed Cerberus – best mind his tricks! –
You'll find you are worshipped by men brave and true,
They'll always and ever respect only you.”

 

Golden-haired Gunter was flattered by this,
He thought it quite marv'llous, saw nothing amiss,
Imagined himself leading cohorts of men
Down into Hades, then more, then again.


Mercury Psychopomp laid it on thick,
“I'll give you a lamp, though you must trim the wick,
Its glow on your feathers will spread gold around,
You'll look quite exotic, all eyes you'll astound.”


“By thunder, I'll do it!” Gunter leapt at the chance,
Not knowing sly Mercury led him a dance.
He'd conquered the yard, he'd cleared out the garden,
He'd beaten the birds, and he'd not ask their pardon;


New horizons he wanted, new conquests to make,
Of this limited farm he'd had all he could take.
“Now, how do I get there?” he asked of the air
where Mercury hovered, unseen, I declare.

 

“Just go to the kitchen and ask for some grain,”
Prompted Mercury cunning, “All's in hand, all's in train.”
Off strutted Gunter, his feathers puffed up
At the thought of his future, the silly young pup.


He saw not the quick hand that wrung his plump neck,
Plucked, gutted and trussed him; he'll never more peck
The people that fed him, he'll forever trek
Backwards and forwards, past Cerberus wild,

'Cross Lethe and Styx where the dead stood and smiled
At the pompous old rooster, no more golden child.


So that is the lay of Golden-haired Gunter,
Tour guide to the underworld, nevermore hunter.

 

Nina Crummy 27.11.11

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