Within a thorny thicket wood,
beyond a twisting river, stood
a humble cottage, worn but good,
home to a lonesome witch.
Of orphic craft she was endowed,
to Man and Beast she went unbowed,
and all who knew her knew her proud
yet neither vain nor kitsch.
A garden grew around her home,
a restive ring of fruitful loam,
that’s scented sweet like honeycomb,
where oft she spent her days.
Within her parlor she did hold
a troves of treasures, new and old,
of trinkets set in artful mold,
her tools all on display.
This dame was hailed a worker of
all crafts, from metalwork to love,
but all who knew her knew, above
all else she prized true grit.
What use was there for ‘bravery’,
of pompous, ill-thought knavery
that led to deeds unsavory,
when one was wont to quit?
And so this witch rebuffed all whom
that came to her in search of boon
of such to grant them elbowroom
to flee from paltry woes.
Thereby she came to be known as
a stringent hag, hard as topaz,
that never spares aught what she has
despite who comes and goes.
Petitioners of craven cast
spread lies in hopes to flabbergast
away the few souls yet steadfast
in friendship with the dame.
Regretfully, it came to be
that many spurned her company
as if such ties were felony
despite her great acclaim.
“Forswear all ties yet held with her!”
urged baleful prophets with each slur.
“To keep such congress would incur
a loathsome, wicked end!
“Did ye not hear of what she’s done
to fathers, brothers, and to sons,
and e’en to daughters! Anyone
lacks wit to call her friend!”
But she was not one to complain
of fickle lots, nor did she blame
a one of those that now did feign
that she caused them offense.
To all, she said, “Do as you will!
’Tis not my way to linger still
when others say they’ve had their fill.
Be free! I’ll get me hence!”
And so unto her home did she
return. And little sympathy
was shown — nor any villainy,
despite what all was said —
to those yet eager supplicants
who still sought out her supplements
that they might do with confidence
the tasks they ever dread.
Quoth she, “It is an irksome lot
to be the one who’s ever sought
by greedy fools without a thought
beyond what they can gain.
Oh, whither have the worthy gone?
The distant lands of the Beyond?
Across the seas, in far Gabon?
I long for them amain!”
Thereon she had no kindly smile
nor gentle words of any style
for those who hoped to reconcile
her to a clement code
in place of her strict principles.
They thought her harsh and cynical,
but even then she thought little
of all duress bestowed.
Thenceforth she shied from fellowship,
her tokens locked in iron grip,
and nevermore did she let slip
The greensward wreathed ’round her demesne
grew perilous to all campaigns
of rovers — entreaters became