Canto 2

Auld Pendle is a misty place
Beneath her whale back sheer,
Where dissipation saturates
At all times of the year.

Where mist sets thick & elf lights trick
The mind at every turn,
When in winds wild sometimes a child
Will never home return.

Beginneth hath the twilight time
All thro’ that cursed vale,
Full fifteen years of haunted fears
Where moonlit banshees wail;

Of murderesses murdering
With human images,
As day-by-day crumbles the clay
Their pins shall turn to dust.

The first to die was Dick Baldwin,
Crude were his abuses;
A rogue indeed, whose innate greed,
Lizzie’s wage refuses.

Demdike shall fight her daughter’s cause,
Knocking at Dick’s riches,
“Get off my lands,” the man commands,
“Ye foul whores & witches!

Or I’ll burn one, the other hang!”
The women fumed away;
Later that night, by candlelight
Out came those pots of clay.

After his seven nights of pain
Poor Baldwin had a stroke,
“The strangest things,” swept mutterings
All thro’ the Pendle folk.

Now Henry Milton of Roughlee
Holds back just one penny
Watching Demdike in hunger scrike,
Tho’ that man had many.

Milton would die within a week;
Pale, torrential sweater,
“Dead by disease,” doctor agrees –
Demdike… she knew better.

Time swings unto our crucial year,
Sixteen hundred & twelve,
Where thick & crude the Wiccan brood
Into the darkness delve.

Now Demdike has turn’d eighty three,
Her daughter forty less,
Whose offspring three form family
Midst Malkin Tower’s mess.

The eldest was call’d Alizon,
She called her devil ‘Ball;’
Tongue full of lies, uneven eyes
& barely four foot tall.

Next was the wee & wiry James,
A dumb, precocious boy,
Whose sister’s chest in dark incest
His dev’lish lusts enjoy,

Then last, & least, little Jennet,
A very vicious thing
Less human child, more wolfen wild,
Or crow with broken wing.

Demdike she had her crony friends,
Chattox even older;
Famously frail from Lothersdale
To the river Calder.

Ye half-blind hag, withered & spent,
Disfigured & deranged,
What nonsense slips thy chatt’ring lips,
Reality estranged.

Two daughters has this crooning mare,
With faces hard as stone,
Dour-faced Bessie, buck-toothed Annie,
Them both just skin & bone.

Now Alizon has reach’d Trawden
To sell Rosemary pins,
& marks her pitch, this cackling witch,
This carnal-house of sins

A pedlar by the name of Law
Gives her pins perusal;
But turns ‘em down, a witch did frown
At such pert refusal.

The pedlar shrugg’d & walk’d away,
A black dog did appear,
An evil thing, who’s whispering
In Alizon’s right ear.

“What would,” it growl’d, “ye have me do
To take away thy shame?”
“Hell’s denizen”, hiss’d Alizon,
“Perhaps him ye would lame!”

All in a flash of sulphur fire
The pedlar hit the floor,
When with a bark that dog so dark
Went racing oer the moor.

“What have I done!” gasp’d Alizon,
Her skin begins to crawl,
Regretful guilt, deep to the hilt,
Plunges into her soul.

While Law did twitch this sorry witch
Ran to Malkin Tower,
Where Demdike hails those happy tales
Of her daughter’s power,

Laughing as if a hound of Hell
Was howling at her core,
Her gravel throat’s blood-curl cut short
By thudding at the door.

Before them stands young Abraham,
The pedlar’s fuming son;
With shout & stare, out by the hair
He drags poor Alizon.

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