Once a Week (magazine)/Series 1/Volume 9/The witches' ride


THE WITCHES’ RIDE.

Come, come, gossips, now mount, now mount—
Mount, mount, gossips, and spur away,
Brown bog-rushes, or broom, or crutch,
We’ve far to ride ere the break of day.

Will-o’-the-Wisp has flickered and shone
Three times over my drowned babe’s grave;
Tis time, my gossips, ’tis time to go,
The moon is glittering bright on the wave.

Here our sisters come, two and two,
The air is alive with their widening ranks;
Let the seamen beware the sunken shoals,
And the surf that lashes the weltering banks.

Queen Moon rides on, Queen Moon rides on,
Where the thin white rack is gliding;
We will chase our lady, all through the night,
On our horses that need no chiding.

The clouds, like dragons, and camels, and apes,
Will be shouldering round and following;
Hark! over our heads the jet-black owl
To the snow-white owl is halloaing.

Under our feet the tossing sea
Is unto the mad wind shouting;
O! woe betide the Fifeshire bark,
That our mocking light is doubting.

We’ll ride fast after our lady the moon,
Till Edinbro’ yonder grows small as your hand,
The steeples no bigger than crisping-pins,
And a long white strip the Bamboro’ land.

Back, ere the dawn, while the town is dim,
With the pennons of smoke all blowing one way;
When the stars slink in, and the moon grows pale,
When the sun still sleeps, and the clouds are gray.

Come, come, gossips, the steeds are here,
And we’ve far to cross into bonny France;
We fear no shaft in the southern land,
No guard can stop us with sword or lance.

We’ll halt by the way, a knife to toss
Through the murderer’s window, to tempt him more;
And we’ll drop a rope near the gambler’s bed,
It will serve his turn when the game is o’er.

See how the corpse-lights leap and dance!
Shining to guide us to horse, to horse;
Now then, gossips, we’ll mount at once—
For the churchyard ghosts are out in force.

We’ll brew the storms, and we’ll cast the fires,
That shall wreck and burn, and smite and slay;
King Satan will smile to hear of our work—
Mount! sisters, we’ve much to do ere day.

T. W.