Here's the tale my father told,
Walking in the park one night,
When the stars shone big and bright,
And the autumn wind blew cold:
Once a giant lived of old
In a far-off country, far
As the moon is, where one star,
Golden bright and fair of ray,
Lit the people on their way,
In the darkness gone astray.
And this star was beautiful
As a baby's eyes of blue,
And as bright as they are, too,
Brighter, father said. And who'll
Ever guess what happened? You'll
Wonder when I tell you that
This great, ugly giant sat
In his den, among the bones
Of dead pilgrims, luckless ones,
Throwing at this star big stones.
By his side a lion crouched,
A great cub, who helped him catch
Men and women; keeping watch
Night and day: the giant slouched
In or out the cave and pouched
Travelers. His club, a tree,
Knotted, flung across his knee.
So he lounged or sat, his eyes,
Red as flames, fixed on the skies,
Watching for that star to rise.
For, you see, he'd had no meat
For a week or two; the light
Of the star led people right;
He just gnashed his teeth and eat
Herbs; the lion at his feet
Huddled, mad with hunger, too;
Glaring, as all lions do,
Gaunt it crouched and whined and howled,
While the giant prowled and prowled,
Or sat sullen and just growled.
How he hated all mankind!
So he growled there all day long;
And his big voice, like a gong,
Made the mountain ring. And blind,
Like a bat, without a mind,
He could see no sense or use
In that star; so would abuse,
Curse it, all because its light,
Like a lamp, led pilgrims right,
And they were n't lost in night.
For, you see, the only food
Of this awful ogre was
Men and women; and because
They escaped him in the wood,
And it happened that he could
Never get enough to eat,
Waiting there for human meat,
Thus he thought, "If it were out,
Then they'd come my way, no doubt,
Having night here all about.
"I'll just blow it out, " he said,
And heaved up his bulky bones,
And went grumbling up the stones
To the very mountain's head,
Shaking with his mighty tread
All the crags and pines around.
Then he sat there on the ground
And began to blow and blow,
Till at last, oh slow, so slow!
Duller grew that star's bright glow.
Then the giant stopped a bit,
And drew in another breath:
Saying, "This will be its death!"
Bulged his cheeks and blew at it,
Blew and blew and never quit
Till the star was blown quite out.
Then he rose and, with a shout,
Back into his den again
He went lumbering; the plain
Groaned; the mountain felt the strain.
In his cave he squatted, grim,
Humped and ugly, with his club
Flung across his knees; his cub,
Mountain lion, close to him,
Glaring; both its eyes a rim
Of green smoulder. And that night,
Sure enough, the giant was right:
Since the star no longer shone,
People lost their way alone,
And he captured many a one.
And they squatted in their den,
He and his big lion cub,
By his side his bloody club;
Squatted, snarling, crunching men
That night must have brought them ten.
And when all were eaten he,
The old giant, groaningly
Raised himself and went, I think,
To a stream to get a drink,
Foaming at the mountain's brink.
He had clean forgotten now
All about that star, you know,
That had lit the world below:
Now it was so dark, I vow,
He got lost too; don't know how;
Cursed himself and said, "Odsblood!
I've got lost in this curst wood!
Wish I had a torch. No doubt
That old star threw light about.
Sorry now I blew it out!"
Hardly had he spoken when
Crash he went, huge club and all,
Headlong o'er the mountain wall,
Where he'd thrown the bones of men,
Often, he had eaten. Then
How he bellowed! and the rocks
Echoed with loud breakbone knocks
As adown the mountain side
Sheer he plunged; limbs sprawling wide,
Fell and broke his neck and died.
And the next day, father said,
Came a hunter with a bow,
Found that lion-cub, you know,
Crouching near that giant's head;
With his bow he shot it dead.
And that night, as broad as day,
Pilgrims journeying their way,
Saw a light grow, bar on bar,
Lighting them the road afar.
God had lit another star.