Ballade of the Wolf (Poem) can be found in




ISFDB.org Magazine Entry



Weird Tales JUNE, 1936

Ballad of the Wolf

By HENRY KUTTNER

The Baron came down to his torture vault, and his steward led the way,
And the steward was smiling an evil smile for the work he had done that day;
For there in the vault the soldier Karl lay bound to the torture rack;
And never again across the snow will the werewolf lead the pack!
The yell of the beast was heard by night, the cry of a lost soul's wo;
Shadows raced through the forest gloom, and blood was red on the snow;
And all men knew at the head of the pack a giant werewolf ran,
For he feared the cross and the green wolfbanc, and his eyes were the eyes of a man.
Into the vault to the fettered man came Helga, the Baron's ward,
And the steward chuckled beneath his breath as he leaned on his naked sword;
The jealous rage of a weakling serf is a thing for the strong to fear,
And the steward had sharpened his brooding hate like the point of a poisoned spear.
The Baron looked into Helga's eyes, and he read aright their plea,
And he bade his vassals cut the cords and set the soldier free;
They bent their heads as their master spoke, but they cared not what he said,
For they did not serve the Baron now, but were thralls of an age-old dread.
The Baron fingered his jeweled sword as he stared at the sullen crew;
He looked to left, and he looked to right, and at last the Baron knew
(As all men learn) that he could not break the web that the gray Norns spin...
And swiftly he buckled about his waist a girdle of human skin!
There was blood and steel in the torture vault, and the terror of Judgment Day;
The steward fell with a dying shriek and his throat tom half away;
The Baron's ward has slashed the cords and freed her love from the rack;
And never again across the snow trill the werewolf lead the pack!