The Witch at Arbor Low

The Witch at Arbor Low

A Poem by David Lewis Paget

Annie Trembles had met the witch

As she sat at Arbor Low,

Her tears were thick and her heart was sick,

She had no place to go,

She’d sought the old Stone Circle out,

And thought to divine the lore

Of the old Brigantes with their Druid chants;

Then she met Susannah Straw.


Susannah Straw was a wily witch

Who lived by her wits, and spells,

She kept the faith of her pagan race

Designing and dressing wells.

She’d conjure the odd love potion,

And she’d make the kine run dry,

If a body was too outspoken

She would give them the evil eye!


Annie had been heartbroken when

She heard that the blacksmith, Tom,

Announced he was marrying Rachel Greene,

The girl from the Nether Farm,

She’d worshipped Tom from a distance

Since he’d kissed her, under the tree,

But that was back in a Christmastime,

And she’d thought: ‘He doesn’t love me!’


She opened her heart to Susannah Straw

By the stones of Arbor Low,

With a flood of tears she unburdened years

Of a passion that hurt her so,

The witch had gathered the mandrake root

Some orange to make it sweet,

The heart of a dove, some powdered blood

And a smidgin of ambergris!


‘You need to feed him the potion soon,

Two days is all it will keep,

Then once he’s fed it will turn his head,

It will make his Rachel weep!’

So Annie went to the Inn that night

And tipped it into his jar,

And Tom had quaffed in a single draught

Then fallen over the bar!


He’d worked at the forge that Saturday,

But felt so queer in his head,

He pumped away at the bellows ‘til

The coals were glowing red,

Then Rachel called for a sweet caress

From the lips of her dear betrothed,

But Tom recoiled as his lips were soiled

By the woman he suddenly loathed!


His hammer lay on the anvil there,

He seized, and he raised it high,

Then split the head of the girl he’d said

Was to be his beautiful bride,

She lay on the floor, unmoving

So he hid her, under the hay,

Then tucked the hammer beneath his belt,

And some rope for the come-what-may!


His steps soon led him to Arbor Low

By the time that the sun was high,

And Annie Trembles looked up to smile:

‘My Tom! Oh my, Oh my!’

But Tom was surfacing out of his trance

And he seized poor Ann by the hair,

Then cried as he brought the hammer down:

‘I am lost in the pit of despair!’


He turned to the gibbering Arbor Witch,

And dragged her over the hill,

Then hung her high on the nearest tree

As she kicked, and squirmed, and squealed.

Once back at the forge, he cut his throat

And lay by his lost love’s side,

Where his blood was wedded to hers at last,

The groom, and his cold, dead bride!


David Lewis Paget

© 2012 David Lewis Paget

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Featured Review

Did you feature this twisted tale for Halloween? Perfect choice! I love how you tell such macabre stories of human nature in rhyme, with humor, a moral, and a twist at the end without ever sounding preachy. You have such a unique and amazing gift of seeing the good, the bad, and the ugly, in mankind and writing about it in a way that evokes so many thoughts and emotions along with a generous helping of laughter.

Posted 6 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


Wow this was fantastic, im speechless.
Such a dark and beautiful tale woven with great delicasy and care.
A very well told story , flowed through out and every line was like an unfolding tapestry. I am literally blown away this piece is well... amazing

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

For me it reads as if your directed Romeo and Juliet and decided to kick it up a notch and make us delve into the macbre. It flows perfectly with great wording, a most thought provoking piece, well done, great read.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

The skilled story teller once again at his best.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

You can tell a amazing story. Sometime the goal can get twisted and end up with a bad ending like in this tale. I enjoyed the complete tale. You need to have a book for many to enjoy. Thank you for sharing the excellent story.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Interesting story, written with your usual narrative ability, combining vivid images with a taste of obsolete and rural life. Tragic course of events, tragic story. Your usual way to express compassion for common people who are trapped between good and evil without real guilt. And the fact that things are going in a wrong direction has a strong moral value. You express your knowledge about human life without explaining, without drawing conclusions, only staging the characters, your writing has a dramatic value.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

If ever you write something average I shall surly drop over dead!My wife and I laughed all through this. Only you could tell a tale of Woe and make me laugh in the end .It seems your tales while they lead us down the pratfalls of our character.Always the kiss of sister fate steps in to twist the end. It seems that the villainous always get their due and never get what they pay for.Or do they? lol I don't know how to quantify you.There is no peer to compare you with. So Ill just say I am eternally grateful for your abilities. I showed one of your pieces to a woman the other night .She was so distressed over it she said I can never compete with that.I said you need not worry about that. How about we just enjoy it.

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

What a master story teller you are David. I know many say things to you such as, 'Good, but I want to see something else from you', etc, etc. Not me! You expertly craft a story, wrapped around fluid, coherent verse, whisking your readers off on a fantastic journey to who-knows-where! As always, take a well deserved bow, my friend! Amazing...

Posted 9 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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38 Reviews
Shelved in 4 Libraries
Added on July 19, 2012
Last Updated on July 19, 2012
Tags: pagan, potion, forge, blood


David Lewis Paget
David Lewis Paget

Moonta, South Australia, Australia