David Lewis Paget
The Coven - Poem by David Lewis Paget
I had shot a couple of pheasants,
Was returning, deep from the wood,
Avoiding the crackle of branches, making
As little noise as I could,
The sky was clear and a harvest moon
Shone down through the old oak leaves,
When I saw the glimmer of candlelight
Shimmering through the trees.
I hid myself by the mighty oak
That had grown, six hundred years,
And heard the mutter of chanting there,
The rhyme of an evil verse,
I looked on out to a clearing where
The Devil and all were stood,
Thirteen candles and thirteen cloaks
And thirteen wearing a hood.
The Devil stood on an ancient stump
His face was hid from the mass,
He held a crucifix upside down
They all bowed down in the grass,
A woman rose from the group and peeled
The cloak that covered her form,
The sight of her beauty caught my breath
As if I'd never been born!
The hood remained, and concealed her face
As she dropped down on all fours,
The Devil leapt from his stump, and raged,
Then took her there by force;
The others chanted and danced about
In a circle, for some rite,
Despoiling the Devil's chosen witch
Was the purpose of that night.
They all dispersed as the moon went in
Was hid by an ugly cloud,
I kept my eye on the Devil's form
He was wrapped in a purple shroud,
I trailed him, loping, out of the wood
Like a beast that's held at bay,
And brought him struggling to the ground
To see what he'd have to say.
I ripped the hood from his evil face,
He snarled and snapped in the night,
‘Let's have a look at those evil eyes! '
He growled, and put up a fight;
But I laid him low by the mansion gate
And I held him there on the ground,
He yelled: ‘I'm the Lord of Leighton Hay
The Lord of these these woods and downs! '
‘So this is the Demon Devil's face,
Then who was the Winsome Witch?
I'm sure the Lady of Leighton Hay
Would be ready to flay the bitch! '
‘You mustn't tell, it would break the spell
Of the coven, and all my power,
What would you take for your silence, now,
For the reck of this parlous hour! '
‘There's just one thing that I'd take from you
To silence this gossiping tongue,
She's sweet, petite, and has dancing feet,
And I guess you know, she's young! '
‘If you talk about Lady Caroline,
My daughter, never for you! '
‘Oh well, the Lady of Leighton Hay
May brew up a Hell of a stew! '
That was a year and a day ago,
We wed, and live in the lodge,
The witches are still in the woods out there,
I often go out to watch;
But my Lady wife is an innocent,
I know she'd never deceive,
Except for the pot of serpents and frogs
She brewed on All Hallows Eve!
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