The Witch

September 17, 2016

jean-baptiste-monge-witch

Margaret Grady – I fear she will burn –
Charmed the butter off my churn;
‘Tis I would know it the wide world over,
Yellow as saffron, scented with clover.

At Omagh market the witch displayed it:
Ill she had gathered, ill she had made it.
Hid in my cloak’s hood, one glance I threw it,
Passed on smiling; my troth! I knew it!

Sheila, the kindest cow in the parish,
Mild and silken, and good to cherish,
Shame her own gold butter should leave her
To enrich the milk of a low-bred heifer!

I said not Yea or Nay to the mocker,
But called the fairy-man over from Augher;
Like a russet he is that’s withered,
Bent in two with his wisdom gathered.

He touched the butter, he peered and pondered,
And crooned strange rhymes while I watched and wondered:
Then he drew me out through the gloaming
O’er the fields where the mist was coming.

He bewitched me so that I know not
Where they may grow, where they may grow not;
Those witch-hazels he plucked and plaited,
Crooning on while the twigs he mated.

There’s the wreath on the churn-dash yonder.
All the neighbours view it with wonder;
And ‘spite of Father Tom I avow it
The yield is doubled since that came to it.

I bless the fairy-man though he be evil;
Yet fairy-spells come not from the Devil;
And Margaret Grady – I fear she will burn –
I do forgive her, with hate and scorn.

Katharine Tynan Hinkson