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Witches Poetry

Alison Gross

    Oh, Allison Gross, that lives in yon tower
    The ugliest witch in the north country
    Has trysted me one day up in her bower
    And many fair speech she made to me

    She stroked my head and she combed my hair
    And she set me down softly on her knee
    Says, "Gin ye will be my leman so true
    Sae many braw things as I would ye gi'"

    She showed me a mantle of red scarlet
    With golden flowers and fringes fine
    Says, "Gin ye will be my leman so true
    This goodly gift it shall be thine"

    "Away, away, you ugly witch
    Hold far away and let me be
    I never will be your leman so true
    And I wish I were out of your company"

    She next brought me a sark of the softest silk
    Well wrought with pearls about the band
    Says, "Gin ye will be my ain true love
    This goodly gift you shall command"

    She showed me a cup of the good red gold
    Well set with jewels so fair to see
    Says, "Gin ye will be my leman sae true
    This goodly gift I will ye gi'"

    "Away, away, you ugly witch
    Hold far away and let me be
    For I wouldna aince kiss your ugly mouth
    For all the gifts that you could gi'"

    She's turned her right and round about
    And thrice she blew on a grass-green horn
    And she swore by the moon and the stars abeen
    That she would gar me rue the day I was born

    Then out she has taken a silver wand
    And she's turned her three times round and round
    She's muttered such words till my strength it failed
    And I fell down senseless upon the ground

    She's turned me into an ugly worm
    And gard me toddle around the tree
    And aye, on ilka Saturday night
    My sister Maisry came to me

    With silver basin and silver comb
    To comb my head upon her knee
    Before I had kissed her ugly mouth
    I'd rather have toddled about the tree

    But as it fell out on last Halloween
    When the seely court was riding by
    The queen lighted down on a rowan bank
    Not far frae the tree where I wont to lie

    She took me up in her milk white hand
    And she's stroked me three times on her knee
    She changed me again to my ain proper shape
    And I nae more maun toddle about the tree

    - Old English Ballad.


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