RELIQUES VOL. 3, BOOK 2 , 23. Bishop Percy
     
 
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THE WITCHES' SONG
 

XX III.

THE WITCHES' SONG

— From Ben Jonson' s Masque of Queens, presented at Whitehall, Feb.2, 1609


:
(introduction omitted)
:

1 WITCH

I HAVE been all day looking after
A raven feeding upon a quarter:
And, soone as she turn'd her beak to the south,
I snatch'd this morsell of her mouth.

 
THE WITCHES' SONG.
251

2 WITCH

I have beene gathering wolves haires,
The madd dogges foames, and adders eares;
The spurging of a deadmans eye:
And all since the evening starre did rise.

3 WITCH

I last night lay all alone
O' the ground, to heare the mandrake grone;
And pluckt him up, though he grew full low:
And, as I had done, the cocke did crow.

4 WITCH

And I ha' beene chusing out this scull
From charnell houses that were full;
From private grots, and publike pits;
And frighted a sexton out of his wits.

5 WITCH

Under a cradle I did crepe
By day; and, when the childe was a-sleepe
At night, I suck'd the breath; and rose,
And pluck'd the nodding nurse by the nose.

6 WITCH

I had a dagger: what did I with that?
Killed an infant to have his fat.
A piper it got at a church-ale.
I bade him again blow wind i' the taile.
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THE WITCHES' SONG
 

7 WITCH

A murderer, yonder, was hung in chaines;
The sunne and the wind had shrunke his veines:
I bit off a sinew; I clipp'd his haire ;
I brought off his ragges, that danc'd i' the ayre.

8 WITCH

The scrich-owles egges and the feathers blacke,
The bloud of the brogge, and the bone in his backe
I have been getting; and made of his skin
A purset to keepe sir Cranion in.

9 WITCH

And I ha' beene plucking (plants among)
Hemlock, henbane, adders-tongue,
Night-shade, moone-wort, libbards-bane ;
And twise by the dogges was lke to be tane.

10 WITCH

I from the jawes of a gardiner's bitch
Did snatch these bones, and then leap'd the ditch :
Yet went I back to the house agine,
Kill'd the blacke cat, and here is the braine.

11 WITCH

I went to the toad, breedes under the wall,
I charmed him out, and he came at my call;
I scratch'd out the eyes of the owle before;
I tore the batts wing: what would you have more?
 
THE WITCHES' SONG.
253

DAME

Yes: I have brought, to helpe your vows,
Horned poppie, cypresse boughes,
  The fig-tree wild, that grows on tombes,
  And juice, that from the larch-tree comes,
    The basiliskes bloud, and the vipers skin :
    And now our orgies let's begin.