An Old Poem: Witch Hunt
This was originally done as a performance piece.
Such was the darkness of that day, the tortures and lamentations of the afflicted, and the power of former precedence, that we walked in the clouds, and could not see our way. The Rev. John Hale Sarah Good, hanged Susannah Martin, hanged Elizabeth Proctor, reprieved Rebecca Jacobs, acquitted Martha Corey, hanged Mary Bradbury, reprieved Rebecca Nurse, hanged Alice Parker, hanged John Proctor, hanged Ann Pudeator, hanged Giles Corey, pressed under stones Martha Carrier, hanged Bridget Bishop, hanged Elizabeth Howe, hanged Abigail Hobbs, reprieved Wilmot Reed, hanged Sarah Wilds, hanged Ann Foster, reprieved, Mary Easty, hanged Mary Lacey Sr., reprieved George Burroughs, hanged Margaret Scott, hanged George Jacobs, Sr., hanged Abigail Faulkner Sr., reprieved John Willard, hanged Rebecca Eames, reprieved Sarah Buckley, acquitted Samuel Wardwell, hanged Mary Witheridge, acquitted Mary Parker, hanged Dorcas Hoar, reprieved Is three hundred years so long ago? Can you see the village? Saltworks, warehouse, wharf and fish flakes cod ketches in from the Newfoundland banks trading ships in from Barbados or Surinam The gabled clapboard houses, steep-roofed I saw her on the beam suckling her yellow bird betwixt her fingers small windows to keep out the cold there is a black man whispering in her ear board fences to keep the cattle out meeting house to keep the devil out O yonder is Goodman Proctor & his wife & Goody Nurse & Goody Corey & Goody Cloise & Goody Child. Goodman Proctor is going to choke me. church yard to keep the dead inside gallows built sturdy on Gallows Hill they both did torture me a great many times because I would not yield to their Hellish temptations Can you hear the village? Sea wind and tide rumble Barking dog, brown wren scolding in the eaves gossip in the gardens, on the streets, children about their business to and fro the learned preacher enlightening his flock I would advise you to repentance, for the devil is bringing you out Kettles hiss and bubble, spinning wheels tick and whir I have seen sights & been scared. I have been very wicked. I hope I shall be better: if God will keep me. And in the night dark calls of whippoorwill and owl, cat wail, fox yap What a dreadful Sight are You! An Old Woman, an Old Servant of the Devil! ‘ Tis an horrible Thing! moanings of birth and love and death scream of a rabbit caught. What sin hath god found out in me unrepented of that he should Lay such an Affliction upon me In my old Age? Can you smell the village? stew of rabbit and winter roots herbs in the dooryards, hanging from the beams sea scent--salt and drying cod I never had to do with witchcraft since I was born. I am a Gospell Woman. Ye are all against me and I cannot help it. sweat and urine, blood and shit The LORD doth terrible things amongst us, by lengthening the Chain of the Roaring Lion, in an Extraordinary manner; so that the Devil is come down in great wrath. Human nature has not changed. They might lie for ought I know We are wary creatures crouched in caves. Outside our civilized circles wild eyes glitter in the night Were you to serve the Devil ten years? Tell how many. voices of the dispossessed murmur under every window they drum and dance in the dense black desert praying to their devil, plotting our demise. There is evil, evil all outside, all around. Do not you see these children & women are rational & sober as their neighbours when your hands are fastened? Human nature has not changed. Being Conscious of My own Innocency I Humbly Beg that I may have Liberty to Manifest it to the world Watch your children fight for space, watch the traffic, grocery check-out line, listen to the evening news, hear your own voice grow shrill. How comes the Devil so loathe to have any Testimony born against you? They said we were guilty of afflicting them. We knowing ourselves altogether innocent of this crime, we were all exceedingly astonished and amazed, and consternated and affrighted even out of our reason. With all gone wrong, with demons all round, the fault can not be mine. I will have, must have someone else to blame. God would not suffer so many good men to be in such an error about this, and you will be hanged if you do not confess. It is false! the Devil is a liar. It is a shameful thing that you should mind these folks that are out of their wits. Where do you place your fear? I take God in heaven to be my witness, that I know nothing of it, no more than the child unborn In your heart, your bowels? Or do you wrap it tight and bury it like a corpse far away, outside yourself, That you were fled from Authority is an acknowledgment of guilt but yet notwithstanding we require you to confess the truth in this matter. in your neighbor’s yard, your neighbor’s soul? I am going upon the Ladder to be hanged for a Witch, but I am innocent. Can you see the village still? Boundaries broad, buildings tall, I am no more a Witch than you are a Wizard, and if you take away my Life, God will give you Blood to drink all the traffic sound and stench and still-- Is three hundred years so long ago? If it was the last time I was to speak I am innocent Note: The names of the accused are read throughout, in a monotone. words spoken by the accusers words spoken by the accused words spoken by the judges