The Earl & The Thief

By William Hulce of House Hulce
This poem was an entry in the contest of bards held between the people of Cornwall and the rest of Albion during peace talks early in 1106. It satirises events in The Greenwood almost a year earlier when Earl Tylendal of The Hunters challenged Puck’s claim to be an ancestor, and the sprite was forced to flee. It is believed that the writer had a distinct agenda and that the poem is a deliberate attempt to glorify both Earl Tylendal (the writer’s feudal lord) and “Jack Of The Green”; the trickster aspect of The Hunter ancestor. Some reports suggest that an emissary of Puck was amongst the audience when it was performed and, whilst words were exchanged, Puck was sufficiently amused not to visit any sort of vengeance upon the writer.

Library Archivist
Spring 1106

Come with me to the Greenwood

Where our story is begun

The tale I tell is one of Puck

And Gloucester’s favourite son

Of Jack who was forgotten

And the thief who stole his place

And of the day the trickster’s smile

Was wiped from off his face
Young Puck is sly and quick of wit

And devious of mind

With tiny horns and evil grin

And goats arse stuck behind

Though all he sought was simple fun

Puck’s humour is … well … odd

So off he skipped with playful glee

Pretending he’s a god
Now in those woods there lived an elf

Not slight or sly or fair

A real, live elf prop forward

Who liked to wrestle bear

A man of will, a man of faith

Tylendal was his name

And The Hunter had forewarned him

Of Puck’s deceitful game
Well up bounced Puck and saw the elf

And made a cunning plan

“How much more power could I amass”

“If worshipped by this man?”

“I’m great” lied Puck, “I’m diligent”

“Hardworking and I’m true”

“And if you bow before me”

“Think what I can do for you”
Tylendal thought a moment

Said “I think I must decline”

“You’re mad, or drunk or something”

“Stolen too much goblin wine”

“What power you have you stole” he said

“Betrayed The Hunter’s trust”

“The only thing you’re god of”

“Is sheep-related lust!”

“The Hunters time has come and gone”

“It’s my turn now” Puck cried

“I’ll form my own damn trinity”

“That no one can divide”

“I think you’d better leave” said Ty

“And keep your foul mouth shut”

“Or Hunter be my witness”

“I will kick your goaty butt”
Then in a rage Puck screamed and lept

A ball of horns and hair

A swift hoof to the ‘earldom’

Nearly robbed Ty of an heir

But dodging swift the elf replied

He took Puck by the throat

And just as he had promised

Kicked the satyr up his goat!
“No more, no more” the sprite did cry

“Have mercy now I beg”

And fled back into shadow

With his tail between his legs

And all the world was bright again

And Jack looked on an smiled

For though man had forgotten

He’d been watching all the while
Now if we spirits do offend

Think only it a dream

But never take the word of Puck

You don’t know where he’s been!

And if you see Tylendal

Do be sure to buy him beer

… for that’s the Hunter’s chosen

… and the man who taught Puck fear
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