William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

A Lowland Witch Ballad


The old witch-wife beside her door
Sat spinning with a watchful ear,
A horse's hoof upon the road
Is what she waits for, longs to hear,
The mottled gloaming dusky grew,
Or else we might a furrow trace,
Sowed with small bones and leaves of yew,
Across the road from place to place.
Hark he comes! The young bridegroom,
Singing gaily down the hill,
Rides on, rides blindly to his doom,
His heart that witch hath sworn to kill.
Up to the fosse he rode so free,
There his steed stumbled and he fell,
He cannot pass, nor turn, nor flee;
His song is done, he's in the spell.
She dances round him where he stands,
Her distaff touches both his feet,
She blows upon his eyes and hands,
He has no power his fate to cheat.

‘Ye cannot visit her to-night,
Nor ever again,’ the witch-wife cried;
‘But thou shalt do as I think right,
And do it swift without a guide.
‘Upon the top of Tintock hill
This night there rests the yearly mist,
In silence go, your tongue keep still,
And find for me the dead man's kist.
‘Within the kist there is a cup,
Thou'lt find it by the dead man's shine,
Take it thus! thus fold it up,—
It holds for me the wisdom-wine.
‘Go to the top of Tintock hill,
Grope within that eerie mist,
Whatever happens, keep quite still
Until ye find the dead man's kist.
‘The kist will open, take the cup,
Heed ye not the dead man's shine,
Take it thus, thus fold it up,
Bring it to me and I am thine.’

He went, he could make answer none,
He went, he found all as she said,
Before the dawn had well begun
She had the cup from that strange bed.
Into the hut she fled at once,
She drank the wine;—forthwith, behold!
A radiant damozel advance
From that black door in silken fold.
The little Circe flower she held
Towards the boy with such a smile
Made his heart leap, he was compelled
To take it gently as a child.
She turned, he followed, passed the door,
Which closed behind: at noon next day,
Ambling on his mule that way,
The Abbot found the steed, no more,
The rest was lost in glamoury.

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

Do you like this poem?
1 person liked.
0 person did not like.

Form:


Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (A Lowland Witch Ballad by William Bell Scott )

There is no comment submitted by members..

Famous Poems

  1. Phenomenal Woman
    Maya Angelou
  2. Still I Rise
    Maya Angelou
  3. The Road Not Taken
    Robert Frost
  4. If You Forget Me
    Pablo Neruda
  5. Dreams
    Langston Hughes
  6. Annabel Lee
    Edgar Allan Poe
  7. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings
    Maya Angelou
  8. If
    Rudyard Kipling
  9. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
    Robert Frost
  10. A Dream Within A Dream
    Edgar Allan Poe
Trending Poets
Trending Poems
  1. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  2. Dreams, Langston Hughes
  3. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  4. If, Rudyard Kipling
  5. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  6. If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
  7. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  8. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  9. A Dream Within A Dream, Edgar Allan Poe
  10. As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
[Hata Bildir]