Agnes Sampson

(One of the accused in the North Berwick Witch Trials, executed in January 1591)


Bangsters o jilers an torturers huv been deavin me
day an nicht wi gyte ravins born fae thir ain vengeance.
They huv skewed ma wurds, lik ill-hertit wabsters
snuvin thir woo tae weave a plaid o thir ain truth.
They huv flyped me roond an tapsalteerie
like some clarty auld sark; an streaked me
ower a rack tae dree the weird o a witch

Ilka neuk an cranny in ma puir body has been raked
an forked ower oan a howk fur the deil's tit.
They feared ma wit mair nor the deil,
so ah gied them whit they wanted - an mair!
Ah rugged oot a bonny bunnle o stories
wi hose an shuin - onythin fur peace!

Ah tellt them aboot ma randie sculduddery wi the deil;
his couthie buttery-lippit whillywha, an - oh -
whit gyte nichts o hoochmagandie ah hud wi him!
Kiss his erse? Aye, nae doot!
Gang widdershins roond the cauldron? Of coorse!
Whit's a lassie tae say tae a craitur wi aw that fire in his een?
Whae culd gainstaund the glamourie?

Ah tellt them he kythed tae me as a dug
(tho ah culdnae say whit breed);
an ah sailed the high seas oan a lum -
or wis it a sieve? Cannae mind, but
we had a braw nicht oot eftir baptising a cat
at the wabster's hoose, then flingin it awa
intae the watter, wi a cantrip or twa.
Ah done this, jist tae pit aff the new queen's arrival.
An they sooked up the lees, lik bairns at the breist.

But even a bairn kens that nae nummer o deid cats
nor puddocks flung intae the waukrife sea
can stap ony swaws fae spelderin ships.
Whit skeely wife lik masel has pooer ower the moon?
Or ony maucht ower the sautie swaws an fykie jaws
clashin oan the skerries, stieve enough tae rug an rive
ony ship headin fur Scotland - with or withoot a king's bride?
An dinnae tell me yer needin ony clype or clash
tae fun oot whit a braw king lik Jamie the Saxt
wad say tae his bride oan a waddin nicht!

Ah'd raither dee than stey lockfast tae branks an bridle;
raither be raxed oan the dool tree than cleekit
wance mair intae the boots or pilliwinkles.
Ah green fur the flames o ma daithbed oan Castlehill
whaur the hangie's haunds wull shaw mercy
an deliver me tae a better place.

An as fur ma accusers - they'll get thir farins
in the place whaur the fire nivir dees.

Frances Robson