David Lewis Paget

Gold Star - 8,980 Points (22.11.1944 / Nottingham, England/live in Australia)

The Widow Hamm & The Love-Me Tree - Poem by David Lewis Paget

I’d been on my own for so many years
That my heart had turned to stone,
It must have shown in my miserable face
For the women left me alone,
They took one look, thought: ‘Not for me,
I’ve not even seen him smile! ’
If they only knew how I ached inside,
Or walked in my shoes for a while.

The one young love that I’d thought to have
Had married a banker’s clerk,
I don’t know how he attracted her,
They must have met in the dark.
He walked knock-kneed with a crooked grin
She couldn’t have loved his looks,
But he bought her a fine old Georgian house,
He must have been cooking the books! ’

I thought I’d wait ‘til she tired of him,
I shouldn’t have long to wait,
I’d walk on by and I’d wave to her,
Or stand by her garden gate,
But she seemed content as the years just went
And I lived my life in dread,
That I’d watch myself grow old and lie
Alone in my four-post bed.

I would drink alone in the Saracen’s Arms
When the rain was wet on the stones,
And a stranger, there from the countryside
Came in, to warm up his bones,
We sat together beside the hearth
And he soon confided in me:
‘I’ve got me a new young wife, ’ he said,
‘My thanks to the Love-Me Tree! ’

I looked him carefully up and down,
He seemed to be past his prime,
The battle scars on his craggy face
Were set in a long, deep line,
He laughed, ‘I know what you’re thinking,
Why would a young girl fancy me?
I put it down to the Widow Hamm
And the spell of her Love-Me Tree! ’

He told me then of the Widow Hamm
In the village of Cauter Hook,
‘You can look in vain for the Widow’s name
But she’ll not be found in the book.
She lives in a cottage by candlelight
With her water drawn from a well,
And under the tree by the well, you see
Is the place where she casts her spell.’

‘The water bubbles up out of the ground
And it feeds the roots of the tree,
Then the tree it blossoms with heart shaped darts,
She calls it the Love-Me Tree,
You give her the name of the one you love
And she casts her spell in the air,
Then you take a blossom and place in the hand
Of the one that you want to care.’

He told me about the claims she made
Of the men she had helped, for sure,
All of them wed to some young girl
Who wouldn’t look twice, before,
He told me then of a banker’s clerk
Knock-kneed, and ugly as sin,
Who’d lusted after a Janice White,
And how she’d been taken in.

My heart had stopped, and a chill ran down
From my neck to the base of my spine,
So that was how he had stolen her,
The girl who should have been mine!
I said I’d like to meet Widow Hamm
And he told me the way to go,
So I turned up there on her doorstep, said:
‘There’s a girl I would like to know! ’

She took me in and she asked her name
And I said it was Janice White,
The Widow paused, and she pursed her lips,
And her face turned pale with fright.
‘I know that name, but she’s lost to you,
I cast her spell in the Spring,
It was not that many years ago
But I see that you’re suffering! ’

She charged me double the normal fee
As she said it was ‘fraught with strife,
If he should find I have spelled again
And cost him his lovely wife.’
But she took me into the garden there
And she sat me under the tree,
Then she muttered some incantation that
Would bind the woman to me.

I took the blossom and hid it well
As I sauntered along the Strand,
Called to Janice who came to me
And I placed it there, in her hand.
She seemed to stop, and she stared at me
With a new look in her eyes,
‘But my, you’re suddenly handsome, ’
She exclaimed, in her surprise.

I told her where I was living, and
She arrived, that afternoon,
She said, ‘I’m suddenly weary of
My husband, that poltroon! ’
I told her how I had loved her, that
I’d waited for years in vain,
Then she held me close and she kissed me,
Said: ‘You won’t have to wait again! ’

I thought it would have been settled, but
The spell was just half as strong,
Fighting against the other spell
It knew neither right nor wrong,
For the first twelve hours in every day
She swore she was mine to keep,
But right on noon she would go back home
And then she’d begin to weep.

‘I don’t know what I am doing, ’ she
Would say when she came to me,
‘I think that I must still love him…’
Then I thought of the Love-Me Tree.
I said, ‘You don’t really love him, he
Once captured you with a spell! ’
Then I told her about the Love-Me Tree,
And she said, ‘You can go to hell! ’

Her eyes were suddenly opened, she
Could see us for what we were,
A couple of ugly troglodytes,
Both with a love for her,
But she went and married a handyman
And she sent him at night to see,
And while the Widow Hamm was asleep
He chopped down the Love-Me Tree!

16 April 2013

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 3, 2013

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