William F Dougherty
Lamia In Blackburn Wood - Poem by William F Dougherty
[In the form of traditional folk ballad.]
In Blackburn Wood a maid betrothed
that rode a garlanded mare
by cutthroat maimed for maidenhood
writhed in crimson there.
Dislimbed beneath a shrieking sun
and left for carrion-kite,
the savaged maid survived their beaks,
and slithered into night.
By summer's end, to Blackburn Wood
a sheath of night returned;
beneath its hood and tapered robe
maiden vengeance burned.
'Disrobe and yield or fall in blood,
this blade rejects all pleas:
I leave a maid a looping asp
that will not lift her knees.'
'I'll shed my robe and hood that am
no maid to fear such thing;
to chill your blazing blood I bear
a maiden's righteous sting.'
A lethal hiss cut short his grunts,
bestial snarl hardened to stone,
as ramping venom drained him faint
and pale as weathered bone.
Up from a clump of blasted weeds
there rose in mid-day light
from cutthroat's ribs and skull, pecked clean,
a flock of swollen kite.
A field away a sheath of scales,
resembling robe and hood,
curled round a broken garland
redeemed in Blackburn Wood.
*(Lamia in Greek myth is a serpent with the head
and breasts of a woman.)
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