Walter De la Mare THREE, from WITCHES & WITCHCRAFT

In the black furrow of a field
I saw an old witch-hare this night;
And she cocked a lissome ear,
And she eyed the moon so bright,
And she nibbled of the green;
And I whispered "Wh-s-st! witch-hare,"
Away like a ghostie o’er the field
She fled, and left the moonlight there.

I saw three witches
That bowed down like barley,
[80] And straddled their brooms ‘neath a louring sky,
And, mounting a storm-cloud,
Aloft on its margin,
Stood black in the silver as up they did fly.
I saw three witches
That mocked the poor sparrows
They carried in cages of wicker along,
Till a hawk from his eyrie
Swooped down like an arrow,
Smote on the cages, and ended their song.
I saw three witches
That sailed in a shallop,
All turning their heads with a snickering smile,
Till a bank of green osiers
Concealed their grim faces,
Though I heard them lamenting for many a mile.
I saw three witches
Asleep in a valley,
Their heads in a row, like stones in a flood,
Till the moon, creeping upward,
Looked white through the valley,
And turned them to bushes in bright scarlet bud.

I have heard a lady this night,
Lissom and jimp and slim,
Calling me—calling me over the heather,
‘Neath the beech boughs dusk and dim.
I have followed a lady this night,
Followed her far and lone,
Fox and adder and weasel know
The ways that we have gone.
I sit at my supper ‘mid honest faces,
And crumble my crust and say
Nought in the long-drawn drawl of the voices
Talking the hours away.
I’ll go to my chamber under the gable,
And the moon will lift her light
In at my lattice from over the moorland
Hollow and still and bright.
And I know she will shine on a lady of witchcraft,
Gladness and grief to see,
Who has taken my heart with her nimble fingers,
Calls in my dreams to me:
Who has led me a dance by dell and dingle
My human soul to win,
Made me a changeling to my own, own mother,
A stranger to my kin.

the above shorts appear in
Witches & Witchcraft
A Book of Fairy Poems by
with Illustrations by
Dorothy P. Lathrop
(Holt, 1922)

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