I was originally told this story as if it had happened to a gaming friend of mine, Eric the Saint. However, I got a message from one Richard Aronson, claiming authorship of the original story. I believe him to be entirely truthful in this claim, so I have added the appropriate attribution.
In a vale beside a hummock in the Spring of ’17
Sat a fighter known as Eric (no relation).
With his squire, a wizened fighter, Eric gazed upon a scene,
And was filled from toe to top with trepidation.
What he saw was fairly iffy, for it has to be explained
That the fellow known as Eric had a problem
With his eyes – the years of fighting left his beady peepers strained
And the sunlight only served to further knobble ’em
But his squire was not so troubled; he could see as clear as day.
If he weren’t so old he’d gladly lead the mission.
As it was, his knees were rheumy and his hair was turning grey;
He was hardly made for jobs more tough than fishin’.
So they sat, the Squire and Eric, and they gazed upon a hill,
Where they saw a massive shape, bereft of motion.
Eric asked his old companion, “Kindly tell me, if you will,
“What it is I see; I haven’t any notion.”
Here his squire became didactic; in a teacher’s haughty tone
He replied, “It’s not a mystery to me, no.
“It’s a thing that in the tropics now is very widely known:
“What you see upon the hill is a gazebo.”
“A gazebo!” gasped the fighter. “From the tropics, so you said!
“What a shock to see it here, with us before it!
“We shall fight as God commands, until the thing is lying dead!
“I’ll never catch it sleeping and ignore it!”
“I shall strangle this gazebo,” shouted Eric, “by the neck!
“I shall roast its fearsome toes in boiling oil!”
Eric’s squire was quite astonished, but he figured, “What the heck.
“He’s the boss; it wouldn’t do to be disloyal.”
But he felt he’d best explain it, lest his master lose the plot.
“This gazebo’s easy ten or twelve foot high!”
“What a monster!” Eric cried. “It’s too immense for my garrotte.
“I shall take a bow and let an arrow fly!”
This he did; his aim was shonky, so he tried and tried some more.
“Did I hit it?” Eric asked. The squire said yes.
“Does it die? Or is it angry?” Eric yearned to know the score.
“No reaction,” said the squire, “I must confess.”
“No reaction!” echoed Eric. “We must leave this hellish place
“This gazebo’s like to kill us, if we stay!”
Here his squire could keep no longer that serenely placid face.
He guffawed; his mirth was boundless, sad to say.
Then at length the agéd squire took his squinting boss aside,
And told the truth, in scathing words and biting.
“From the Latin word ‘gazebus’, meaning ‘hut to sit inside’;
“I suspect you’re not cut out for all this fighting!”