The Bosky Dyke Barguest

Near Fewston, in the Forest of Knaresborough, is a spot named Busky or Bosky Dike where a barguest used to be seen (until they built a school in the spot in 1878).  The following poem told of the creature that used to frequent the spot…

The Bosky Dyke, the Bosky Dyke,

Ah ! tread its path with care ;

With silent step haste through its shade,

For ‘ Bargest ‘ wanders there!

 

Since days when ev’ry wood and hill

By Pan or Bel was crowned;

And ev’ry river, brook, and copse

Some heathen goddess owned.

 

Since bright the Druid’s altar blazed,

And lurid shadows shed,

On Almus Cliff and Brandrith Rocks,

Where human victims bled.

 

Hag-witches oft, ‘neath Bestham oaks,

Have secret revels kept,

And fairies danced in Clifton Field,

When men unconscious slept.

 

Dark sprite and ghost of every form,

No man e’er saw the like,

Have played their pranks at midnight hours,

In haunted Busky Dyke.

 

There milk-white cats, with eyes of fire,

Have guarded stile and gate,

And calves and dogs of wondrous shape,

Have met the trav’ller late.

 

And ‘ Pad-foot ‘ oft, in shaggy dress,

With many a clanking chain,

Before the astonished rustic’s eyes,

Has vanished in the drain.

 

On winter’s eve, by bright wood fire,

As winter winds do roar,

And heap the snow on casement higher,

Or beat against the door.

 

Long tales are told from sire to son,

In many a forest ingle,

Of rushing sounds and fearful sights,

In Busky Dyke’s dark dingle.

 

But lo! there now, as deftly reared,

As if by magic wands,

In superstition’s own domain,

A village schoolroom stands.

 

Where thickest fell the gloom of night,

And terror held its sway,

Now beams the rising sun of light,

And intellectual day.

 

Before its beams, its warmth, its power,

Let every phantom melt,

And children’s gambols now be heard,

Where fearful bargest dwelt.

 

Yet softly tread, with rev’rent step.

Along the Busky shade,

There ghosts our fathers feared of old.

Will be for ever laid.

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The Barguest (extract from a poem):

The Barguest, is often seen as a large dog – if you see it, then death or disaster is surely coming.

(This is an extract from New Monthly mag, No. 13., page 65,  from 1815. “The Convicts”. It doesn’t seem to state the author, so I’ll leave it as anon!)

“When darkness o’er the world her mantle throws,

And weary swains have sunk to calm repose,

Except some straggler chance the street to roam,

Who, from the alehouse reeling, seeks his home;

Where late he sate, the blithest of the throug,

None drank more deep, none bawl’d a louder song;

None boasted more of prodigies of might;

Sudden behold him stop, as in affright:

Trembling, he sees before his swimming eyes,

Just in the middle path, a goblin rise,

In form more rugged than Hyrcanian bear,

Whose eyes like burning coals or meteors glare;

A lambent flame plays o’er its rugged hide,

In its own lurid light the demon is descried:

‘Tis heard to drag a massy chain behind;

Thick coming fancies fierce assail his mind;

Legends of terror which his grand-dam told,

Now chill the heart of him. of late so bold:

Fast as he flies he hears,

Oh, dire to Close at his heels tell this minister of hell.

Dogs bark, chains rattle, groans and yells resound,

More near they seem’d at every fear-urged bound;

Gasping for joy, he gains his cottage door,

He flies to bed, nor deems himself secure:

Shiv’ring with horror, tells his injur’d wife

The dreadful scene, and vows to mend his life;

Breathes a short prayer, inspir’d alone by fear,”