April 7

The Witch’s Daughter: Review

P3021947Creative Commons License Stanisław.k via Compfight

The Witch’s Daughter

John Greenleaf Whittier

 

It was the pleasant harvest time,
When cellar-bins are closely stowed,
And garrets bend beneath their load,

And the old swallow-haunted barns –
Brown-gabled, long, and full of seams
Through which the moted sunlight streams,

And winds blow freshly in, to shake
The red plumes of the roosted cocks,
And the loose hay-mow’s scented locks –

Are filled with summer’s ripened stores,
Its odorous grass and barley sheaves,
From their low scaffolds to their eaves.

On Esek Harden’s oaken floor,
With many an autmn threshing worn,
Lay the heaped ears of unhusked corn.

And thither came young men and maids,
Beneath a moon that, large and low,
Lit that sweet eve of long ago.

They took their places; some by chance,
And others by a merry voice
Or sweet smile guided to their choice.

How pleasantly the rising moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm-boughs! –

On sturdy boyhood sun-embrowned,
On girlhood with its solid curves
Of healthful strength and painless nerves!

And jests went round, and laughs that made
The house-dog answer with his howl,
And kept astir the barn-yard fowl;

And quaint old songs their fathers sung
In Derby dales and Yorkshire moors,
Ere Norman William trod their shores;

And tales, whose merry license shook
The fat sides of the Saxon thane,
Forgetful of the hovering Dane,—­

Rude plays to Celt and Cimbri known,
The charms and riddles that beguiled
On Oxus’ banks the young world’s child,—­

That primal picture-speech wherein
Have youth and maid the story told,
So new in each, so dateless old,

Recalling pastoral Ruth in her
Who waited, blushing and demure,
The red-ear’s kiss of forfeiture.

But still the sweetest voice was mute
That river-valley ever heard
From lips of maid or throat of bird;

For Mabel Martin sat apart,
And let the hay-mow’s shadow fall
Upon the loveliest face of all.

She sat apart, as one forbid,
Who knew that none would condescend
To own the Witch-wife’s child a friend.

The seasons scarce had gone their round,
Since curious thousands thronged to see
Her mother at the gallows-tree;

And mocked the prison-palsied limbs
That faltered on the fatal stairs,
And wan lip trembling with its prayers!

Few questioned of the sorrowing child,
Or, when they saw the mother die;
Dreamed of the daughter’s agony.

They went up to their homes that day,
As men and Christians justified
God willed it, and the wretch had died!

Dear God and Father of us all,
Forgive our faith in cruel lies,—­
Forgive the blindness that denies!

Forgive thy creature when he takes,
For the all-perfect love Thou art,
Some grim creation of his heart.

Cast down our idols, overturn
Our bloody altars; let us see
Thyself in Thy humanity!

Poor Mabel from her mother’s grave
Crept to her desolate hearth-stone,
And wrestled with her fate alone;

With love, and anger, and despair,
The phantoms of disordered sense,
The awful doubts of Providence!

The school-boys jeered her as they passed,
And, when she sought the house of prayer,
Her mother’s curse pursued her there.

And still o’er many a neighboring door
She saw the horseshoe’s curved charm,
To guard against her mother’s harm; –

That mother, poor, and sick, and lame,
Who daily, by the old arm-chair,
Folded her withered hands in prayer; –

Who turned, in Salem’s dreary jail,
Her worn old Bible o’er and o’er,
When her dim eyes could read no more!

Sore tried and pained, the poor girl kept
Her faith, and trusted that her way,
So dark, would somewhere meet the day.

And still her weary wheel went round
Day after day, with no relief
Small leisure have the poor for grief.

So in the shadow Mabel sits;
Untouched by mirth she sees and hears,
Her smile is sadder than her tears.

But cruel eyes have found her out,
And cruel lips repeat her name,
And taunt her with her mother’s shame.

She answered not with railing words,
But drew her apron o’er her face,
And, sobbing, glided from the place.

And only pausing at the door,
Her sad eyes met the troubled gaze
Of one who, in her better days,

Had been her warm and steady friend,
Ere yet her mother’s doom had made
Even Esek Harden half afraid.

He felt that mute appeal of tears,
And, starting, with an angry frown,
Hushed all the wicked murmurs down.

‘Good neighbors mine,’ he sternly said,
‘This passes harmless mirth or jest;
I brook no insult to my guest.

‘She is indeed her mother’s child;
But God’s sweet pity ministers
Unto no whiter soul than hers.

‘Let Goody Martin rest in peace;
I never knew her harm a fly,
And witch or not, God knows – not I.

‘I know who swore her life away;
And as God lives, I’d not condemn
An Indian dog on word of them.’

The broadest lands in all the town,
The skill to guide, the power to awe,
Were Harden’s; and his word was law.

None dared withstand him to his face,
But one sly maiden spake aside
‘The little witch is evil-eyed!

‘Her mother only killed a cow,
Or witched a churn or dairy-pan;
But she, forsooth, must charm a man!’

Poor Mabel, in her lonely home,
Sat by the window’s narrow pane,
White in the moonlight’s silver rain.

The river, on its pebbled rim,
Made music such as childhood knew;
The door-yard tree was whispered through

By voices such as childhood’s ear
Had heard in moonlights long ago;
And through the willow-boughs below.

She saw the rippled waters shine;
Beyond, in waves of shade and light,
The hills rolled off into the night.

She saw and heard, but over all
A sense of some transforming spell,
The shadow of her sick heart fell.

And still across the wooded space
The harvest lights of Harden shone,
And song and jest and laugh went on.

And he, so gentle, true, and strong,
Of men the bravest and the best,
Had he, too, scorned her with the rest?

She strove to drown her sense of wrong,
And, in her old and simple way,
To teach her bitter heart to pray.

Poor child! the prayer, begun in faith,
Grew to a low, despairing cry
Of utter misery: ‘Let me die!

‘Oh! take me from the scornful eyes,
And hide me where the cruel speech
And mocking finger may not reach!

‘I dare not breathe my mother’s name
A daughter’s right I dare not crave
To weep above her unblest grave!

‘Let me not live until my heart,
With few to pity, and with none
To love me, hardens into stone.

‘O God! have mercy on Thy child,
Whose faith in Thee grows weak and small,
And take me ere I lose it all!’

A shadow on the moonlight fell,
And murmuring wind and wave became
A voice whose burden was her name.

Had then God heard her? Had He sent
His angel down? In flesh and blood,
Before her Esek Harden stood!

He laid his hand upon her arm
‘Dear Mabel, this no more shall be;
Who scoffs at you must scoff at me.

‘You know rough Esek Harden well;
And if he seems no suitor gay,
And if his hair is touched with gray,

‘The maiden grown shall never find
His heart less warm than when she smiled,
Upon his knees, a little child!’

Her tears of grief were tears of joy,
As, folded in his strong embrace,
She looked in Esek Harden’s face.

‘O truest friend of all” she said,
‘God bless you for your kindly thought,
And make me worthy of my lot!’

He led her through his dewy fields,
To where the swinging lanterns glowed,
And through the doors the huskers showed.

‘Good friends and neighbors!’ Esek said,
‘I’m weary of this lonely life;
In Mabel see my chosen wife!

‘She greets you kindly, one and all;
The past is past, and all offence
Falls harmless from her innocence.

‘Henceforth she stands no more alone;
You know what Esek Harden is: –
He brooks no wrong to him or his.’

Now let the merriest tales be told,
And let the sweetest songs be sung
That ever made the old heart young!

For now the lost has found a home;
And a lone hearth shall brighter burn,
As all the household joys return!

Oh, pleasantly the harvest-moon,
Between the shadow of the mows,
Looked on them through the great elm-boughs!

On Mabel’s curls of golden hair,
On Esek’s shaggy strength it fell;
And the wind whispered, ‘It is well!’

 

This was a very long, but well written poem. I really liked this one, and honestly it made me choke up a bit. The poem shows how fast society is willing to judge you, and it wasn’t even her they were judging! Because her mother was a witch they automatically didn’t like her. I absolutely loved this poem and I would love to check out more of his work. I hope you enjoyed it too!

 

 

October 6

In the Shadows

The lonely little light in the distance seems to dance in the still of the night. I’m sure it’s just a hallucination, there would be no one out here who would help me, just kill me. In fact no one alive would be out here this late, except me. I do need to get back to the safe house but every time I move the swampy floor below me squishes making it harder to hide from the black shadows that haunt the night.

The light is now gone, covered, by one of the shadows who is looking for the next victim to join. This…thing is no more then a foot away from my face, I could just try and run but they will hear and catch me, it’s a race that I can’t win. It’s just like when you ask your friend to see who can run the fastest to a certain distance except your friend completely cheats and flys. I slow my breaths hoping that the black beast that stands before me will give up and move on to the next lonely wanderer.

I look around me hoping to find a way to escape but all I see are shadows in the trees that seem to tear through the stars to the heavens. The dark and foul smelling waters below me are no better, they were once full of frogs and fish and was now full of dark mystery and sadness that the shadows have created for the entire village. After a long painful hour of just standing there they finally move on, some stupid girl ran away from the dark ones . The screeching of the shadows was like nails on a chalk board but I had to endure it so they wouldn’t come back.

I look back around and see the trees, the water, and the muddy swampy ground. I smell the foul stench of death in the water, I went to walk back to the building still keeping quiet. The smell and the darkness that is so intense is swallows my heart and crushes it, it made me sick to think of all the lost pets, the lost children, the lost souls that were once alive in this wasteland. I don’t know how I got back alive, I am the only one to tell the tale of the shadows, but it happend, and I am here.

September 25

Sound

Sound…that’s all I know, all the senses I have. My eyes stopped working, there’s a force on them I can’t describe, it’s not painful just…odd.

I was walking around, listening as best I could to the long echo that seemed to last for years. A drip. A single drip of water hitting the floor nearly made me run back, but no, I had to get out.

What happened in this place is too…intense for me to talk about. I didn’t run, no. That would only trigger the alarm, this was the slower way but I knew no one would see me down here.

Another drip. This time I expected it, but not what happened next, a footstep. I froze, everything that I could still control tensed up. Another step echoed throughout the hall, it, whatever it was, was getting closer.

It started to speed up, this was no guard, no. They are not allowed out this late and even if it was the head guard, he would not walk in such a random pattern. It was another…me. I walked to the right, not hugging a wall anymore I became nervous but I kept going. I stepped in a puddle, the person, who ever it was. Ran.

This was a stupid mistake for us both, the alarm sounded. I could not see the red blaring lights but I knew they were there, I know from experience. I turned around, not completely knowing where I was going, I just didn’t want to get busted, who knew what they would take from me next.

I ran as fast as I could, the coldness from the winter was making my breaths shorter, but I couldn’t walk. I kept running knowing I must be close to my room at the end of the hall now, I started to slow down, feeling the soft carpet below my feet I knew I was in my room. I slowly turned and closed the door, the worst part about not being able to see was, anyone could be in my room, anything for that matter, and yet I would never know.

I did know one thing for sure, I would be trapped here forever, no escape. I felt along the wall to find a picture, we weren’t allowed to have pictures. This was the head guards room, I was along the wrong side of the hall so I went into the wrong room. I knew my hearing would be next.

No sight, no sound, no smell, theirs nothing left. The door opened and closed and I stood in fear.

September 21

All Alone

missing

vaidehi shah via Compfight

Everyone’s gone. Where did they go?

It’s Tuesday, December 15th, I am sitting alone on  a park bench writing this, I don’t see movement. Earlier today I took a walk through the woods, no bunnies, no deer, just a slow, soft breeze.

It’s winter so it’s freezing cold outside but going inside won’t help, it will be just as cold. No heat is going through the vents, no one is here. I didn’t cause this if that’s what your thinking, I just woke up and noticed there was no movement. No people.

Wait…is that…a person! Are you kidding me, five hours alone and there is someone here.

Her name is Ashley, she’s…strange. We will be having a perfectly good conversation and then she will just walk off and say not to follow her. I don’t understand, she has been alone as long as I have and yet she seems bored with the world.

It’s the next day, it’s getting colder but I have met three other people and they all act the same as Ashley, having a conversation then just walking off. I don’t get it, but it’s okay, I just want people.

He left, Chris left, the only person who would actually stay for most of the conversation left and never came back. I miss him, I want him to come back, he needs to come back! But I won’t leave, the monsters will get me if I do, that’s what Ashley said.

It’s dark!? I don’t understand, it hasn’t been dark in a year. Another person left, Mary, she wasn’t nice, I never liked her anyway, it’s just another person gone that I miss. Chris never came back, Ashley said the nonstarters got to him. picked his brain and that if he ever came back to run from him.

I’m alone… everyone left. I’m here with Ashley but she won’t talk to me anymore. Before she stopped talking she said the monsters were here, I’ve seen them. Large things that walk around, teeth like daggers waiting for me. I have heard them calling to me at the dark time, I want to go see them, they could be nice, but I won’t Ashley said they were mean.

I am outside, it’s the dark time, I see the monsters, he’s coming, Chris, I hug him…WAIT NO!

I am on a table, all I see are lights, I’m at the hospital… What happened?