The Witch Wife’s Weaving [poem by E. J. Brady]

[Editor: This poem by E. J. Brady was published in The Earthen Floor (1902).]


The Witch Wife’s Weaving.

In old Norse legend the fogs are called ‘witch-wool.’


White wool, white wool, the Beacon light is fading
The Night it falls full soon,
And fast the swift clouds cover,
A potent, hornéd moon.

Black wool, black wool, it drifts the Beacon over
That stands beside the Sea,
And thy dear sailor lover,
Thou never more shalt see.

’Tis Nord and West from Daneland,
In the Land of the Eskimo,
That the Witch-wife weaves ’neath the frozen eaves
Of her little lorn house of snow.

A Raven sits at her left hand,
And a were-wolf sits at her right,
And their green eyes glare where her red eyes stare
In the Dusk o’ the Polar Night.

Now the warp runs thick and heavy,
And covers the floor as it trails —
But ever anon it is lost and gone
When the spell of the Witch-wife fails.

’Tis South and East from Cape Horn,
In the land where the lone fires glow
That he threads the woof at her loud reproof —
The Witch-wife’s Man in his hut of Snow.

The Shade of a wing-helmed Viking
Came knocking amain at her door, —
“Why baersark Witch dost stitch and stitch
With thy white wool over the Floor?”

“Oh, ’tis South and West from Daneland
On the Seas where the tall ships go;
We are seaming shrouds of the bleached fog clouds
With the runes that the Grey Norns know.

“Oh, ’tis Nord and East from Cape Horn
On the Seas where the strong ships go —
We are weaving palls where the black fog falls
In the Night, with the runes we know.”

E. J. Brady, The Earthen Floor, Grafton (N.S.W.): Grip Newspaper Co., 1902

Editor’s notes:
anon = at another time, later

Shade = ghost; disembodied spirit

Old spelling in the original text:
dost (does)
shalt (shall)
thou (you)
thy (your)
’tis (it is)

Vernacular spelling in the original text:
o’ (of)

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