Canto 1

Auld Pendle is a pagan place,
A little wild world where
Superstitious whisp’ring witches
Ride on the whistling air.

Of these fell crones I’ll tell my tale;
Five hundred years ago,
Pendle forest was loveliest
Twyx Colne & Clitheroe.

Let us espy a painted eye
Perch’d high upon a church;
Protection from all ‘things’ that come
From Hell with sordid lurch.

It stands in Newchurch, whose bells ring
For our Blessed Lady,
Whose spire commands the local lands,
Focusing His glory.

Outside the doors awaits Demdike,
Squatting ‘neath matted hair;
The sermon ends, she calls all, “Friends,”
Yet not one penny spare.

She scatters curses under breath.
Forg’d in faerie power,
Then scampers back along the track
Towards black Malkin Tower.

She catches breath by Faugh’s quarry,
Hewn from the sloping furze,
When in the wistful morning mist
An incident occurs.

A boy behind a rock steps out,
Clad in a sable coat,
As they did meet she sees his feet
Are cloven, as a goat.

“Give me yer soul,” the Devil spat,
Demdike stood listening
“& for six years ye’ll have no fears,
Nor want for anything.”

The young witch thought a while or two,
Then consented after;
Her daemon sneers, then disappears
In a cloud of laughter.

Six years of love & happiness
Demdike did gaily know;
When by a stream her happy dream
Burst by the deep below.

“I have come to collect thy soul,”
The Devil gently said,
With honest sigh & teary eye,
On heather Demdike led.

She let the Beast suckle her vein
Until the day grew dark,
That serpent tongue lapp’d deep & long
& left a bloody mark.

“I am the Devil,” said the Beast,
“& all my powers thine,
For as they live aid shall I give
To all those that are mine.

Lass, if ye wish to summon me,
Just say my name three times,
Go ‘Tibb! Tibb! Tibb!’ & rub yer rib
& chant yer witchy rhymes.

Then I’ll appear, I’ll help ye lass,
Honoring yer wishes…”
Then with a dash of sulphur flash
The Devil vanishes.

Demdike has soon gone raving mad,
A husband leaves his bride,
The world unjust, a new mistrust
Spreads over Pendle-side.

“That Demdike is a witch,” men say,
“She’s evil!” rile their wives;
Where once was calm, from farm-to-farm
Folk fearful of their lives.

Now old horse-shoes & smooth-hole stones
Fasten’d each nervous door;
Now suns & moons & other runes
Are painted roof & floor;

Now sage is burnt at every hearth
To exercise the ghosts
That round ‘em range, flauntingly strange,
Unholy haunting hosts.

“Devil! Devil! I thee defy!”
Wide whispered, height & vale;
& prayers said before each bed
Are long as dragon’s tail.

As witchery finds natural
Kinship in a coven,
Watch old Chattox, decrepit fox,
Stoking Demdike’s oven.

“As ye have yer familiar
Today I met my own,
He hissed to me, ‘call me Fancy,’
& chilled me to the bone.

He look’d just like a Christian man,
But Devil must he be,
I never saws no darker force
In any human’s ee!”

Now trotted in a spotted dog,
It growl’d, sat black teeth bare,
Hissing, “I’ll be yer ain Fancy!”
& fix’d her with a stare.

“He’ll need to suck a bit o blood,”
Said Demdike, “Like my Tibb!”
“I’ll take my own,” the dog did groan,
“From just beneath a rib!”

So Chattox lifted up her shirt,
Reveals her wrinkling flab;
The Devil sinks its teeth & drinks
Her blood into a scab.

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