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The Mythstories Poetry Commission 2003
Fouke le fitz waryn by Michael Rosen Episode 2

He called for food
And a great deal of wine
With music in his ears
They sat down to dine.

As the drink went down
The king had an idea:
Why not call Sir Audulph
To come in here?

‘Tomorrow the traitor
Will breathe his last breath
But a man can have pleasure
On the eve of his death.’

So sir Audulph was summoned
He came into the room
And he stared at the minstrel
In the candle-lit gloom.

He had thought by now
That all hope had gone
But blimey O'Riley
Wasn’t this…John?

John meanwhile
Could see Audulph think
And when no one looked
Tipped him a wink.

John knew he couldn’t
Do anything louder
And something else:
He was carrying some powder.

It wasn’t anything horrid
Or anything creepy
Just the kind of stuff
To make you sleepy.

With all the kings men
Well and truly fuddled
With this special powder
Our John juggled.

Into the men’s glasses
The powder he slipped
So straightway they dozed
Straightway they kipped.

In this story you’re used
To hearing of great feats.
So you’ll not be surprised that
John grabbed some sheets.

Audulph was curious
‘Hey John,’ he said
‘I suppose you’re tired
And wanna go to bed?’

‘No Audulph,’ says John
‘Praise be to heaven
We’re gonna jump out the window
Into the River Severn.’

So the two men escaped
Back to Sir Fouke
King John was so furious
The rafters shook.

It wasn’t very nice
Being in the King’s parlour
Next thing he sent a letter
To Prince Lewis of Bala.

‘Your reward, dear Prince
Will be many a shilling
If you catch Sir Fouke
And proceed to kill’im.’

Well, Prince Lewis was good.
No one comes better.
He only went and showed
Sir Fouke the letter.

‘Wer ho’, says Sir Fouke
‘Don’t like the look of that.
I’m off.
Where’s me hat?’

‘Stay,’ says Prince Lewis
But Fouke didn’t take the chance.
‘Sorry, Prince, I’m off.
I’m going to France.’

Well, he took jewels and money
And many an ornament.
And when he got there
They were having a tournament.

Soon he was jousting
With a knight called Sir Druz.
And in this story, as you know,
Sir Fouke doesn’t lose.

Sir Druz was putting on
Something of a show
So Sir Fouke struck him
A terrible blow.

It was right on his head
So his brain was addled
So Fouke gave him a push
And Sir Druz was unsaddled.

‘Who are you?’ said the King
‘Mon Dieu, ma foi!’
‘I,’ said Sir Fouke
‘Am Amys del Bois.’

So as Amys del Bois
Sir Fouke stayed in the court.
But as you’d expect
The time was short

King John back home
In his court got word.
That the voice of Sir Fouke
In France had been heard.

‘Dear France,’ he writes,
‘Je dois vous dire’ -
(That’s ‘I have to say,’) -
‘Send Fouke back here.’

Back writes France
‘I swear on my hat.
There’s no one ici
Called anysing like zat.’

News reached Sir Fouke
Of what King John had written
Sir Fouke was twice shy
As he was many times bitten.

‘My Lord,’ says Sir Fouke
‘Merci pour l’hospitality
But je pense maintenant
It’s time to end the jollity.’

‘Zut!’ said the King,
‘You English baron
Are not Amys del Bois
Vous etes Fouke le fitz waryn.’

Well, as you know well
Even today
The French don’t like to do
What the English say.

‘I say merde to King John
I would love you to stay’
But Fouke didn’t stop
He was soon on his way.

He headed for the coast
And soon found a ship
He found the captain
And planned a trip.

‘Sir,’ said Sir Fouke
‘I can see that your body’s well made
You look like someone
Who’s mastered his trade.

But how did your father die
Can you tell me?’
‘Sir,’ said the captain
‘My father died at sea.’

‘And his dad and his dad
What about them? Do tell me.’
‘They too, Sir Fouke,
All died at sea.’

‘Well,’ says Sir Fouke
‘Take it from me
You must be mad
Going to sea.’

‘Well,’ said the captain
‘I can see why.
But tell me Sir Fouke
Where did your folks die?’

Sir Fouke thought for a bit
And then he said,
‘Well as far as I know
They all died in bed.’

The captain smiled
And then he said.
‘Well you must be mad
Going to bed.’

‘Oh who’s the funny one?’
Said Fouke with much laughter.
And they set sail for England.
Very soon after.

Down below they had stored
Some excellent cheese
Some fine French cloth
And the duty frees.

It was all in piles
And neatly stacked
When all of a sudden
They were being attacked.

‘Ahoy,’ said the pirate
With a voice like thunder
‘Your ship looks right
For a bit of plunder.’

‘Indeed,’ said the captain,
‘And so do you.’
He sailed at the pirate
And cut his ship in two.

This all took place
Far from ground
And all the pirates
Were very soon drowned.

The captain, I’ve said,
Was something of a cutey
He showed Fouke how
To grab the booty.

On they sailed
Past lowland and highland
When they came on shore
At an unknown island.

A peasant by his door
Was just taking his mat in.
Interestingly enough
He spoke in Latin.

‘Do you speak Latin?’
Sir Fouke said, ‘Yes.’
‘Well come and join me
In a game of chess.’

‘I’ll give that a miss
If that’s OK
I’m someone who
Once was in trouble that way.’

‘Right, said the peasant,
‘As you’re on my patch.
If it’s not chess
Then it’s a wrestling match.’

‘Look,’ said Sir Fouke,
‘It’s nearly night.
To tell the truth
I don’t fancy a fight.’

The peasant was calm
He didn’t raise his voice.
‘Actually, chum,
You don’t have a choice.

Hey, John, hey Tom,
Hey Will,’ he said.
‘See this knight
Let’s break his head.’

Sir Fouke could see
That it was all getting sticky
He didn’t have time
To do anything tricky.

He just got out his sword
And whirled it around.
And their four heads
Ended up on the ground.

An old woman sitting near
Looking all forlorn
Tried to sound the warning
With her warning horn.

‘Not so fast,’ says Sir Fouke
‘You old crone.’
‘Don’t hurt me,’ says she
I’m all alone.

Well, actually I’m not.
Behind that tree with fruit down laden
Is an incredibly beautiful
And intelligent maiden.

And to tell the truth
I’ve got something else in store,
Behind that tree over there,
Are, I think, six more.’

The seven lovely maidens
Came out from the trees
And in front of Fouke
Threw themselves on their knees.

‘Oh mercy, mercy!’
They cried as one.
‘We kiss your feet
As the sky greets the sun.’

‘Actually, girls
It’s the other way round
But anyway,
Get off the ground.

Don’t look so drear
Don’t look so pale
And might I ask
From where you hail?’

‘Sir,’ said one,
‘We’ll answer in a trice
But could I say
You talk really nice?

I tell the truth
You won’t hear me tell no porky
But I am the daughter
Of Aunflor of Orkney.

We once were noble
We once were rich
we were ravished or banished,
I forget which.

Now we’re here
With these Latin peasants
Between you and me
It’s not very pleasant.

I can see you’re someone
Who likes to roam
Any chance of helping us
And taking us home?’

‘Ladies,’ said Fouke
‘I’m your man
I’ll take you back
To your homeland.’

But Fouke didn’t know
That as he spoke this word
A Latin peasant hard by
Was on hand and heard.

He sounded his horn
He sounded the alarm
And two hundred peasants
Came to do Fouke harm.

‘Fie on you,’ says Fouke
‘And fie yet again.’
But he wielded his sword
And they were all slain.

‘Oh Fouke,’ said the ladies
‘You’re so strong.
You’re so clever
You do nothing wrong.’

‘I know,’ said Fouke
Smoothing down his coat.
‘Now, don’t hang about
Come on board my boat.’

On the way to the Orkneys
They had many a fright
Past Norway and Denmark
Many a strange sight.

He saw serpents with horns
And the horns were very pointed
He saw giant lizards
Whose legs were double jointed.

There was the beard of a goat
On one beast he saw there
It had the head of a dog
And the ears of a hare.

Those double jointed lizards
Had come from Wales
Oh I forgot to say:
None of them had tails.

Well Fouke slew them all
It was terrible carnage
And not long after
He landed in Carthage.

On the way there
I forgot to add
The ladies dropped off
Went home to their dad

In Carthage, a peasant said
‘Don’t think us inferior
But Carthage is now ruled
By the King of Iberia.

Our new King came
From across the water
And I’ll tell you summat else
He’s got a lovely daughter.’

At that he took a quaff
From his pewter flagon
‘D’you know what happened next?
She was seized by a dragon.

The dragon took her to
A mountain in the sea.
‘Oh dragon,’ she said,
‘Please set me free.’

But the dragon didn’t listen
He said he was glad to have met her
He said he couldn’t free her
And then he ate her.

Oh damnable dragon
Oh terrible beast
To turn a maiden
Into a juicy feast.’

Fouke turned to his captain.
‘You know me.
Take me, pal
To that mountain in the sea.’

After many, many days
More than anyone was countin’
The captain and Fouke
Arrived at the mountain.

‘Oh sire,’ said the captain,
‘Of scary things I am no stranger
But if you ask me
We’re in terrible danger.’

‘What are you?’ said Fouke
‘A fool who raves and rants?
I’ll tell you what you are.
You’re a scaredypants.

I’ll get that dragon
I really will.
See this mountain
It’s just a little hill.

Don’t come with me.
Listen to me. Stop.
Oh you weren’t coming anyway.
Well I’ll climb to the top.’

But when he got there
It was covered in stones
All round and about
Lay hundreds of bones

Bits of armour,
Shields and spears
It was worse than
The worst of Sir Fouke’s fears.

Nearby was a cave
And a stream running clear
And a voice called out
‘Get me outta here.’

It was a beautiful maiden,
Like an angel from heaven.
‘How long you been here?’
Says the maiden: ‘Seven.

And I’m warning you now
You’re a fool to stay
Cos if the dragon comes out
He won’t let you stay.’

‘What is it with dragons?’
Fouke asked her to tell.
‘And while I’m asking
What’s that terrible smell?’

‘That’s the smell of dead knights
That the dragon has slaughtered
He chops them in half
And again, so they’re quartered.

He slavers and slobbers
Blood flies all over the place
It sticks to his beard
His moustache and his face.

And when he has done
He calls me to his chair
‘Wash me wench,
My maiden fair.’

I then have to wash him
Wash him all over
And then he lies down
On his golden sofa.

You might wonder why
But he’s no fool.
He’s very hot
But the gold is cool.

In front of the door
He puts a great stone,
In case I run away
To be on my own.

And I think something else
Gives him the creeps
He’s scared I’ll kill him
While he sleeps.’

‘By God,’ says Sir Fouke
‘What a terrible beast.
I’ll give him some bother
At the very least.’

‘Oh knight,’ said the maiden
‘Don’t play silly games.’
Just then the dragon appeared
Breathing smoke and flames.

He was up in the sky
Flying from the south
The smoke and flames
Were coming out of his mouth.

Oh it was horrible
Oh it was sickening
If you’d been there
Your blood woulda been quickening.

Down flew the dragon
Smote Fouke with his tail.
Fouke let out
A terrible wail.

But he got out his sword
And gave it a thrust
‘Call yourself fierce?
I tell you you’re dust.’

He drove the sword in
Hoping to see the blood spurt.
‘Oh my!’ said the dragon
‘Was that supposed to hurt?’

Sir Fouke saw that his sword
Didn’t stick, it bounced.
He was really afraid
He was about to be trounced.

‘His chest is as hard
As a coat of mail…
But what if I have a go
At his enormous tail?’

Dodging the flames
So he didn’t burn
He waited for the dragon
To revolve and turn.

Then with a shout
And a mighty laugh
He slashed at the tail
And cut it in half.

Then with a yell
And a mighty roar
He slashed at its foot
And cut off its claw

Then as it turned
To fly back south
Fouke slashed at its head
And cut off its mouth.

Tired as he was
And feeling rather old
He scrabbled around
And picked up the gold.

Then with the damsel
And feeling rather superior
They travelled back to
The King of Iberia.

She was exhausted
So Fouke had to carry her
When the King saw them
He said ‘why don’t you marry her?’

‘Nice idea,’ said Fouke
‘But I don’t want any strife
You see I’ve already got
A lovely wife.’

‘Pity,’ said the King
‘I thought you were ideal
Don’t worry, old chap
I know how you feel.’

So Fouke thanked the King
And then set sail once more
On what was becoming
A kind of world tour.

‘Home to England, Captain
You remember the white cliff.’
‘Aye aye sir,’ said the captain
‘We’ll be there in a jiff.’

Homeward bound what'll happen next, click the duck for
the last episode of Fouke le fitz waryn by Michael Rosen

To episode 3

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