Poetry London Clore Prize 2019: 1st PRIZE

Roger Bloor

The Ghost of Molly Leigh Pleads, Yes Cries for Exemplarie Justice Against the Arbitrarie, Un-exampled Injustice of Her Accusers

Question the First: By which Devils are the Operations of Incubus and Succubus Practised?

Even if my blackbird sat
Above the Turk’s Head sign
And soured the brew
Or even spat
In Parson Spencer’s beer
Does that make Molly Leigh a Witch 
To float as Froath upon the Sea

                  Weight and measure sold I never 
                  Milk and water sold I ever

Question the Second: The Enormity of Witches is considered, and the Whole Matter Set Forth and Declared

Even if my hawthorn never flowers 
Twenty shillings shall be paid
To Alice Beech upon my death
To buy fresh bread for widows
And the Parish Poor
Does that make Molly Leigh a Witch 
Pyewacket, Peckin and Greedigut

                  Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh
                  Chase me round your apple tree

Question the Third: Whether Witches can Hebetate the Powers Of Generation or Obstruct the Venereal Act

Even if I spurned my mother’s teat 
And sucked on hardened crust 
Took my watered milk to sell 
Never took my sins to church
Nor took to bed a man
Does that make Molly Leigh a Witch 
Compacted to that hellish league

                  Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh 
                  You can’t catch me

Question the Fourth: The Method of Destroying and Curing Witchcraft

Even if you lift my corpse
Then catch my blackbird in a bag
To throw him in my coffin still alive 
And Bury us facing North to South 
My body lying face to earth
Does that make Molly Leigh a Witch 
Who feeles no needle, pin thrust, aule

                  Molly Leigh, Molly Leigh 
                  Chase me down the holes I see

Question the Fifth: Whether Witches can Sway the Minds Of Men to Love or Hatred

Even if six clerics damn my soul
And children dance around my grave 
When I come back two centuries hence 
As Sybil Leek the Staffordshire Seer
A blackbird sitting on my arm

Will that make Molly Leigh a Witch 
Accounted guiltie of that crime

                  Spells and Curses made I never
                  But Damn the Parson’s soul for ever