The Witch

by


The Witch is featured in Lewis's poetry collection, Spirits in Bondage (1919), his first published book. We feature it in Halloween Stories
An illustration for the story The Witch by the author C.S. Lewis
Jules Eugène Lenepveu, Joan of Arc burning at the stake, 1886
An illustration for the story The Witch by the author C.S. Lewis
Jules Eugène Lenepveu, Joan of Arc burning at the stake, 1886
An illustration for the story The Witch by the author C.S. Lewis
Trapped amid the woods with guile
     They've led her bound in fetters vile
     To death, a deadlier sorceress
     Than any born for earth's distress
     Since first the winner of the fleece
     Bore home the Colchian witch to Greece—
     Seven months with snare and gin
     They've sought the maid o'erwise within
     The forest's labyrinthine shade.
     The lonely woodman half afraid
     Far off her ragged form has seen
     Sauntering down the alleys green,
     Or crouched in godless prayer alone
     At eve before a Druid stone.
     But now the bitter chase is won,
     The quarry's caught, her magic's done,
     The bishop's brought her strongest spell
     To naught with candle, book, and bell;
     With holy water splashed upon her,
     She goes to burning and dishonour
     Too deeply damned to feel her shame,
     For, though beneath her hair of flame
     Her thoughtful head be lowly bowed
     It droops for meditation proud
     Impenitent, and pondering yet
     Things no memory can forget,
     Starry wonders she has seen
     Brooding in the wildwood green
     With holiness. For who can say
     In what strange crew she loved to play,
     What demons or what gods of old
     Deep mysteries unto her have told
     At dead of night in worship bent
     At ruined shrines magnificent,
     Or how the quivering will she sent
     Alone into the great alone
     Where all is loved and all is known,
     Who now lifts up her maiden eyes
     And looks around with soft surprise
     Upon the noisy, crowded square,
     The city oafs that nod and stare,
     The bishop's court that gathers there,
     The faggots and the blackened stake
     Where sinners die for justice' sake?
     Now she is set upon the pile,
     The mob grows still a little while,
     Till lo! before the eager folk
     Up curls a thin, blue line of smoke.
     "Alas!" the full-fed burghers cry,
     "That evil loveliness must die!"

7.1

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