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Poem by Arthur William Symons

Margery Of The Fens


Yes, I'm dying by inches; the Devil has got his way:
I fought him fourscore years, but he's gripped me hard to-day.
No, not God, not a word of God! For I let him be.
The Devil is waiting, I tell you, but God has forgotten me.


Sir, you know I'm a witch? Look here, lean closer down:
If you tossed me into the dyke, you know I couldn't drown;
If you pricked me over with pins, I never could feel a pin;
For the Devil has sealed me his, and I've sinned the Original Sin.


Fourscore years have I lived, here in the heart of the Fens,
Dragging ages of years, but fourscore years of men's;
And the pools 'll stir, and the fogs 'll rise, and the winds 'll moan;--
Ay, there were others along with me, once; but they're gone, they're gone.


Ages of years alone! There was Dickon, my man, he died,
And the child didn't die, but her father was on the Almighty's side,
And he took him away to himself; but he left the girl to hell,
And me he left to the Devil, with hardly a soul to sell.


Cursed and motherless girl, motherless girl that was mine!
I brought her up on my knees, and she left 'em to herd with swine;
I never have named her name these twoscore years save three:
She cast me off to be harlot, and I cast her off from me.


What's that crying and wailing? The wind? Oh, ay, the wind.
And the wages of sin is death, and the soul shall die that hath sinned.
She cast me off, and she came back home with her baby again;
And I spoke no word, and I shut the door in her face in the rain.


And the baby wailed and wailed on the threshold out in the night;
And all night long she lay at the door, and I sat upright;
And at morn she rose, and I spoke no word, and she went her way;
And the wages of sin is death, and it's I must die to-day.


Inch by inch I'm dying, and Satan's at watch hard by,
For he'll have my soul,--it was all I had,--when I come to die;
For my man that was he died, and my girl that was she fell,
And I flung my soul away, and the Devil caught it for hell.


Twoscore years save three I've lived the life of a witch,
And I've plagued the cattle and folk with cramp and murrain and stitch;
And I've sold my soul, for my girl she killed my heart: let be;
She cast me off to be harlot, and I cast her off from me.


Go, and leave me alone. I'm past your help. I shall lie,
As she lay, through the night, and at morn, as she went in the rain, I shall die.
Go, and leave me alone. Let me die as I lived. But oh,
If the wind wouldn't cry and wail with the baby's cry as I go! 

Arthur William Symons

Arthur William Symons's other poems:
  1. Serata Di Fiesta
  2. Benedictine
  3. Montserrat
  4. On the Stage
  5. Of Charity

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