The Witch of Aberdeen



She lived outside of Aberdeen
Where Scotland woods stood glum and gray
Above a cavern in between
The rising moon and setting day.
Her laughter seemed to plague the night—
    That is, as some would say;
And oft, through yonder crescent light,
Would on her broomstick glide away.

One day a mob of townsfolk came
And seized her from her dwelling place—
The violence bruised her fragile frame,
The blows and blows her puzzled face.
'Neath weeping woods and weeping sky,
   They drug her to a space
Where she was left alone to die,
A witch condemned to hell's embrace.

Not one had known the homeless teen,
This mute recluse abandoned there—
But she loved God and lived serene
In grim conditions none would dare.
And now her laughter fills His halls,
   And halos hug her hair.
This girl condemned by 'Christian laws'
Is now embraced by Heaven's Care.

About this poem

An unnecessary tragedy, I was hoping by this poem to highlight the dangers of runaway superstition, gossip and rumor. “The Witch of Aberdeen” is a poem about a mute, teenage girl who, for whatever reason, lives a reclusive life in an historic period where countless women were accused of witchcraft and condemned to death—and this, sometimes, by vigilante arbiters. The irony of the poem is that, far from being a witch, this homeless girl lived peacefully under God’s Providence.  

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Submitted by Vixility on September 25, 2022

Modified by Vixility on May 28, 2024

51 sec read
1,278

Quick analysis:

Scheme ABABCBCB DEDEFEFE AGAGXGXG
Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 860
Words 167
Stanzas 3
Stanza Lengths 8, 8, 8

John W. May

John W. May has lived in Colorado all his life. He currently works in the field of ophthalmology and loves to mountain bike and read about history. John first became a lover of poetry in 2008 after having read a poem by John Milton. He has been reading and studying the works of various poets since. His favorite poets are Emily Dickinson, Fyodor Tyutchev and W. B. Yeats. more…

All John W. May poems | John W. May Books

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Discuss the poem The Witch of Aberdeen with the community...

23 Comments
  • nwafor_a
    Good work. Your work is inspiring.
    LikeReply25 days ago
  • JoseCanUC
    I like this one. Good piece of work. I often wonder how many people, who have convinced themselves that they are doing God's work, are going to be standing at the gates of hell wondering what happened.
    LikeReply7 months ago
  • Soulwriter
    Whenever I read history I feel grateful to be living in these times, as a woman and from a minority group. Thanks for writing this and sharing. Worthy win!
    LikeReply 17 months ago
    • Vixility
      I completely agree: seems like the further back into the past we go, the more brutal. I’m therefore also grateful that I wasn’t born back then.

      But then I stand and look about and marvel at the world we live in today: so much evil and darkness intermixed with so much beauty. I don’t get it, sometimes. And sometimes it causes me no small amount of anxiety. But then other times (often I should add) Benevolence and Beauty and Meaning prevail.

      I often wonder if, in a century or two from now—if those succeeding generations will look back on us and dread the thought of living in our times.
       
      LikeReply7 months ago
  • ca_rajni_kant_pandey
    Heart touching Mr. John.
    LikeReply 17 months ago
  • nfowke
    Wonderful! I wonder how many others, condemned by self righteous, self styled 'christian ' principles, will be found embraced by "Heaven's care"?
    LikeReply 28 months ago
  • ritchiechelle
    This is definitely one of my favourites of your work.. simply love it
    LikeReply 28 months ago
    • Vixility
      Coming from a poet who actually lives in Aberdeen! Thank you kindly, my friend …
      LikeReply8 months ago
  • B.mathislange
    Wow...Always had a soft spot for the misjudged but this is expressed with the utmost of talent.
    LikeReply 19 months ago
    • Vixility
      Aww, thank you B. This was one of my favorite poems to work on. And I agree: I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the oppressed, the underrated, and those who have been made outcasts—all of whom God loves. 
      LikeReply8 months ago
  • adam.gutteridge
    Brilliant poem John. I love the “And halos hug her hair” line. Perfect! This poem is very thought-provoking and the sentiment still holds true today. People may not be condemning witches anymore but, if someone has the audacity to be slightly different to what’s considered “normal”well that someone might as well be “The Witch of Aberdeen”. 
    LikeReply 29 months ago
    • Vixility
      Hey! Thank you for that comment and for stopping by.
      I totally agree: the 'witch' can easily be a euphemism for anyone experiencing prejudice of any kind (especially by a larger group). There was certainly an 'in-group/out-group' mentality that I was aiming at here, and I'm sure that most of us have at one point or another experienced being 'that person' who doesn't belong, or who doesn't fit-in or conform.
      The historical studies that helped me formulate this poem were heartbreaking, to say the least. 
      LikeReply 29 months ago
  • dougb.21370
    Excellent pathos and provocation John. And I love the Scots and most things about the. I have visited twice. Look in Google images for the nature paintings of Landseer…good stuff John. Doug Blair…yep very good. 
    LikeReply 110 months ago
    • Vixility
      Thank you, Doug. Very much appreciated.
      LikeReply10 months ago
  • cokerrogers
    This is wonderful!
    LikeReply10 months ago
    • Vixility
      Hey, thank you so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. One of the most enjoyable aspects about this poem (for me) is that while writing it, I would bike around my neighborhood every time I ran into a problem with the meter or failed to figure the right words or imagery ... needless to say, I did a lot of biking composing this piece. 
      LikeReply 110 months ago
  • ritchiechelle
    I live in Aberdeen... great poem
    LikeReply 111 months ago
  • lovingempath
    This poem still sticks in my mind. The imagery, rhythm/rhyme and message are all top-notch.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      That is very sweet of you, lovingempath. I’m a big fan of yours, and to hear that means a lot to me.
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • Philipo
    Fine work. I am not surprised how those ancient ladies were judged then. I feel their anger, their fear, and the curse they must have heaped on the country, people that we'redemned them to death some of which were eviler than the person they are burning to death. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Yes, what an exceedingly tragic reality this was for so many actual, historical figures. My heart breaks every time I hear atrocities like these occurring—even contemporarily similar ones.
      Thank you for stopping by. 
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • EtiquetteLearner
    Here I was thinking I was going to be reading some cheeky backwater tell-tale about a spell or a curse or something, but no! you completely rocked the house with this piece of art. The only thing is...well, the broomstick line kind of throws me for a loop. How could she not have been mistaken for a witch if she were gliding around on a broomstick by night? good try though... 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Hey! Thank you for your kind words, I really enjoyed working on this particular piece. I actually dedicated myself to a month of historical study to support as many possible angles as might be available to me when I began the writing.To answer your question about our young lady flying around on a broomstick, the key is the sixth line of the first stanza: “That is, as some would say.” The preceding fifth line and the following seventh and eighth hinge directly on those words … that is to say, it was rumored by others that her laughter plagued the night (but she was mute) and that she would often fly around on a broomstick. The rumors, of course, were untrue—she was just an innocent outsider of Aberdeen’s judgmental and unjustifiably over zealous community.Again, thank you for stopping by and reading this piece. Your words are very encouraging. 
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • Symmetry58
    Indeed worthy of its current status, John. You were blessed with the gift.
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Greatly appreciated, thank you …
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • janet_1
    I love it when the poem I voted for comes in first. I like The Witch of Aberdeen so much that I've memorized it. Thank you for sharing it.
    LikeReply 21 year ago
  • ljsanders
    I enjoyed the way it rhymed and flowed. There is a good message conveyed about a christian person who got beaten up, believed to be a witch. . She did not understand why ( she was a mute) and was left to die - Yet she was the one that would grace heaven's halls.I like the way it was written- it fills me with sadness and disbelief.
    It has powerful imagery. Not too long, no bad language, does not ramble on about feelings. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Probably the hardest part of the poem for me was trying to imagine the girl’s confusion (‘puzzled face’) during the assault, having no idea that these individuals believed her to be a witch—and worse, unable to convey this confusion to her attackers. 
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • kyleandleannamiller06
    It reminded of something written back in time during the Victorian age which I greatly appreciate. I liked how the poem drew you to appreciate the Witch and being carefree being herself and then saddened when she was captured, tortured and killed. I felt the emotions in each stanza. You captured the imagery and emotion and I felt really sad for the witch. I resonate with that and being hurt because you are different. Really good job on this one. 
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      “I resonate with that and being hurt because you are different.” Absolutely agree! How sad it is that we can be so quick to negatively paint that which we don’t understand or know—worse still, to inflict harm as a result of this. I appreciate your comment, thank you … 
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • tanujat2003
    very poignant
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Very sad indeed! Thank you so much for taking the time to read this poem.
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • lovingempath
    You were able to capture a relevant theme that has plagued the ages. Great rhythm and rhyming qualities as well as imagery. Good job!
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • Vixility
      Thank you! You're right in calling this a plague. Keeping the emotional disillusionment constantly before me, of real individuals being unjustly condemned as witches and put to death, was draining but necessary for the storyline. 
      LikeReply 11 year ago
  • ffrank03
    When creating a poem is like creating a story. You have catch the reader's attention in very few lines. It has an interesting story. I like gothic fiction at the same time. It was neither too long nor too short. Overall, it was a good catchy interesting poem. 
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • Vixility
      Thank you! I completely agree with you: the combination of capturing the reader’s attention and keeping the poem’s length at a tolerable read-level (without diminishing the storyline) has always been a tricky thing for me. Some poems require length, others don’t. I’m thrilled that you feel this particular work was right where it should be.

      Again, thank you …
       
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • janet_1
    It was not an easy decision. Many of the poems spoke to me deeply, evoking various emotions. I cannot describe exactly the feeling this poem, The Witch of Aberdeen, gave me, but I find it haunting as if it touches some ancient melancholy chord. That and the lyrical rhyme and rhythm made it my first choice. 
    LikeReply 21 year ago
    • Vixility
      “… the lyrical rhyme and rhythm made it my first choice.” The structure of the poem was loosely based on a poem written by Yeats called, “The Song of Wandering Aengus”. I highly recommend checking it out if you haven’t read it already. The rhyme structure and meter itself would eventually emerge as the first stanza of the poem came together for me (a fun process).

      Thank you! I very much appreciate your approval …
       
      LikeReply1 year ago
  • karthikavnair20
    The poem seems to be well stated,with interesting rhyming pattern and perfect choice of words. Loved it
    LikeReply 11 year ago
    • Vixility
      Thank you! One of the things I most like about writing poetry is, before anything is even penned, figuring out what structure and rhyme scheme I want to work with ...
      LikeReply1 year ago

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"The Witch of Aberdeen" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 15 Jun 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/140327/the-witch-of-aberdeen>.

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