Isabel Ecclestone Mackay
The Witch - Poem by Isabel Ecclestone Mackay
HER hair was gold and warm it lay
Upon the pallor of her brow;
Her eyes were deep, aye, deep and gray--
And in their depths he drowned his vow.
She wandered where the sands were wet,
Weaving the sea-weed for a crown,
And there at eve a monk she met--
A holy monk in cowl and gown.
She held him with her witch's stare
(A sweet, child-look--it witched him well!)
Upon his lip she froze the prayer,
And in his ear she breathed a spell.
He babbled ever of her name
And of her brow that gleamed like dawn,
And of her lips--a lovely shame
No holy man should think upon.
They hunted her along the sea,
'Witch, Witch!' they cried and hissed their hate--
Her hair unbound fell to her knee
And made a glory where she sate.
Her song she hushed and, wonder-eyed,
She gazed upon their bell and book;
The zealous priests were fain to hide
Lest they be holden by her look.
Most innocent she seemed to be
('The Devil's sly!' the fathers say)
Her eyes were dreaming eyes that see
Things strange and fair and far away.
They stood her in the judgment hall.
'Confess,' they cried, 'the blasting spell
That holds yon crazed monk in thrall?'
'Good sirs,' she said, 'he loved me well.'
They haled her to a witch's doom,
They matched her shining hair with flame--
But ever through the cloister's gloom
The mad monk babbles of her name!
And, when the red sun droppeth down
And wet sand gleameth ghostily,
Men see her weave a sea-weed crown
Between the twilight and the sea.
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