Hunting with Falcons

In the medieval romance “Sir Orfeo,” a version of the Orpheus legend from classical mythology, Orfeo’s beloved Queen is kidnapped by the King of Faerie. He goes in pursuit of her. He finds her, one day, hunting with falcons …

And one fair day he at his side
saw sixty ladies on horses ride,
each fair and free as bird on spray,
and never a man with them that day.

There each on hand a falcon bore,
riding a-hawking by river-shore.
Those haunts with game in plenty teem,
cormorant, heron, and duck in stream;

there off the water fowl arise,
and every falcon them descries;
each falcon stooping slew his prey,
and Orfeo laughing loud did say:

‘Behold, in faith, this sport is fair!
Fore Heaven, I will betake me there!
I once was wont to see such play.’
He rose and thither made his way,

and to a lady came with speed,
and looked at her, and took good heed,
and saw as sure as once in life
’twas Heurodis, his queen and wife.

~ “Sir Orfeo” (14th c.),
trans. J.R.R. Tolkien

orpheuseurydice

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