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A Werewolf in Auvergne: A Poem

Auvergne has a long tradition of loups-garous (werewolves). In fact, one of the most famous loup-garou legends first appeared in Discours execrable des Sorciers (1602), a book by the French magistrate Henri Boguet. In Boguet’s tale — which is set in 1588 — a man hunting near the village of Apchon (in modern-day Cantal) is trapped by a wolf and slices off its paw to escape. Later, the man describes his dangerous encounter to his nobleman friend. He draws out the severed trophy but is shocked to find that the wolf foot has transformed into a woman’s hand. Yet this is no ordinary woman’s hand. One finger bears a wedding ring, which the nobleman immediately recognises as belonging to his wife.

At home, the nobleman notices his wife making an attempt to hide the fact that she is missing a hand. In an instant he puts two and two together; his wife is the wounded werewolf! He alerts the authorities — and shortly thereafter his wife is executed in Riom.

In 1864, this strange story was memorialiased in a poem by writer J.G. De Wilde:


“Good friend, if thou art going

To the pleasant chase to-day,

Something, I pray thee, bring me,

As thou comest back this way.”


The hunter, as he galloped by,

Shouted, in glad return,–

“I’ll bring the choicest quarry

In these mountains of Auvergne.”


It was a gallant hunting,

And lack of game was none;

And back the laden hunter

Comes with the setting sun;


When, lo across his pathway

A huge she-wolf appears,

Nor waits assault, but ‘gainst him

Her savage form uprears.


Out flew the shining cutlass,

Swift swept the shearing blade,

And the grim brute’s huge fore-paw,

Severed, on earth was laid.


Away into the forest

The howling creature fled;

The laughing hunter raised his prize–

“This for my love,” he said.


Into the merry city

At even-song rode he;

But at the diamond casement

There sat no fair ladie.


He rushed into her chamber,
There wan and scared she lay,
Nor with her wonted smiling
A welcome rose to say.


He kneels, and from his mantle
Triumphant draws his prize,
But to his feet, with horror,
He starts, and wond’ring eyes.


No longer paw of wild-wolf,

Horrid with claw and hair,

But the bright hand of woman–

Her hand-is bleeding there.


Shrieking, the lovely lady

Aside her mantle threw :

There was the bloody handless wrist–

She was the Loup-garou.

Want to learn more about Auvergne folklore? Click “Legends and Folklore” below.