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!"
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