Wry!

Wry!

A Poem by David Lewis Paget

 

'Now girls, you finish your rye and milk,'
Tituba said, the slave,
The girls had clattered around the house,
'You girls, you'd better behave!'
She'd laid the table with cheese on rye,
With tumblers full of milk,
'Now eat your bread like your father said,
Or the devil will make you sick!'
 
The winter weather was cold that year,
The crops were brought in damp,
The miller muttered but said no more,
He ground by the midnight lamp,
The baker quibbled him over the price,
They knew that it wasn't dry,
But a wink and a nod to the Money God
Said, '...use the tainted rye!'
 
The girls began to suffer fits,
They'd crawl around on the floor,
They frightened Tituba the slave to bits
With the blasphemies they swore,
They screamed, began to hallucinate
Saw spectres in the air,
'It's Sarah Good in a witch's hood,'
They screamed, 'but she's not there!'
 
Tituba baked up a witch's cake
Then fed the cake to a dog,
It leapt and staggered and threw it up
Then lay like a drunken log,
The girls would mutter of witchlike shapes
That flew in the winter mist,
Then fell to the floor by the kitchen door,
Convulsed, in a series of fits!
 
Tituba, she was arrested there
Along with two likely crones,
They searched for the witch's marks on them
On the poor old women's bones,
A taste of the Reverend Parris's whip
Saw his old slave confess,
That she'd met a hog, or a giant dog
And the Devil had done the rest.
 
The girls convulsed, and named the names
Of a score of women there,
They'd all been seen in their fevered dreams
Or as spectres, in the air,
The Judges took no time to Judge,
But signed each new decree,
And a strange new fruit was seen to shoot
From the boughs of the gallows tree.
 
Even the Reverend Burroughs fell
Accused by the lips of spite,
A man of God, he had served them well,
But couldn't defend his plight,
He stood and recited the Lord, his Prayer,
Impossible for a witch,
But they strung him up, regardless then,
And buried him in a ditch!
 
It took the words of a four year old
To seal her mother's fate,
They fed on the word 'hysteria'
Until all they knew was hate,
And one old man who refused to plead
Was pressed to death by stones,
While down at the mill, the race ran still
As the miller ground their bones!
 
'It's a wry old thing,' the miller said
As the death cart passed his mill,
And the baker stopped for a friendly pipe
By the mill-run water wheel,
'But the rye is free of ergot now
It's dry, and the wind blows free,
Swinging the last eight witches there
Under the gallows tree!'
 
David Lewis Paget

© 2012 David Lewis Paget



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Featured Review

So, we've just re-read "The Crucible", have we?
Is this a speculation on your part, or has there been evidence that psychedelics were at the root of this horror? I had always assumed that it was a simple exercise in peer pressure, with a bunch of addled teens, afraid to buck the tide, and unaware of the consequences of their actions, started a small snowball which soon became an avalanche.

Posted 8 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.




Reviews

what a beautiful poetic carpet ride!
Amazing! I enjoyed it
marvelously well penned

Posted 4 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Your poem is just the facts and they tell a tale of times gone by or have they ??

Posted 6 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Your poem sent me wondering and wandering in my mind because, being a Brit I'm not really aware of the background to this poem. (Heard of the Salem witch trials, yes) I'll have to merely say that I find this a compelling and fascinating write .. and written very well .. you have a great use of language, not surprisingly .. the last stanza is very fine in every way.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Very enjoyable. I like the historic theme and the present scientific thoughts on how things might have been. It makes one wonder how much of present day receiced wisdom will look ridiculous or even, as here, tragic, in time.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Read this one on a different site,,great history and your views are always so interesting with the twists you add to them..Missing you mate..God bless Kathie

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I knew the moment you said "...use the tainted rye" that this would be about the Salem witch trials! I know I've said this before but I love how you can take a part of history and make a story in poem form out of it! It's really cool. I bet you if history books were like that kids would want to learn!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

There is so much conjecture and legend connected with these trials that it is difficult to sort out the truth from the assorted mess. I have heard so many different stories connected with this. I have even read the actual trial transcripts ( no easy task considering the language) lol I've heard that Tituba was a Haitian and I've heard she was a Shawnee. I've even heard she was Cherokee. I've heard she taught the girls withcraft and that she was completely innocent like the rest. But I thought there was a great irony there if the girls doing the accusing (the preacher's daughters) were actually the only practising "witches" in the whole regional cacophany. At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed your account and loved the way you spun the tale. You have a troubadour's talent for storytelling with your great poetic skills. Thanks for sharing your talents with us here.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

I would prefer to believe that they were stoned on something rather than just spite and hateful spoiled behavior. Many good people died because of all the lies. It's amazing what people choose to believe. Thanks for the alternate take.

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

So, we've just re-read "The Crucible", have we?
Is this a speculation on your part, or has there been evidence that psychedelics were at the root of this horror? I had always assumed that it was a simple exercise in peer pressure, with a bunch of addled teens, afraid to buck the tide, and unaware of the consequences of their actions, started a small snowball which soon became an avalanche.

Posted 8 Years Ago


2 of 2 people found this review constructive.

Ahhh, David. Venturing into the world of pharmacognosy and classic ergotism! Who'd suspect bad rye was behind all the witch hunts in Salem! Excellent tale once again!!

Posted 8 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


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Added on November 6, 2009
Last Updated on June 28, 2012
Tags: rye, tainted, hallucinations, witches, Salem

Author

David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget

Moonta, South Australia, Australia



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