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Poem: "Hag-Ridden" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Hag-Ridden"

This poem came out of the August 2, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from whuffle, who wished to read about those who don't WANT redemption because they are at peace with their role.  It was sponsored by the_vulture, who shares our love of folklore.


The Hag is the boss of the Forest Wild,
a boss' boss who rules over all within:
the troll under the bridge,
the ogre in his den,
the dragon in his gilded cave.

The ravens are her eyes by day,
and the silent owls by night.
The sword-tailed bees bring her sugar
to frost the gingerbread walls of her house.
It is the wolves, not the deer,
who make the path to her doorstep
with their patient passing.

Her garden blooms with foxglove and belladonna,
nightshade, hemlock, wolfsbane,
and a dozen other poisonous plants
all neatly tended within a fence of bones.

The Hag has her place in the plot,
her own page in the tome of fairytales
where the scholars map out the hero's journey.
She must  appear,
as surely as the wooded path
and the magic weapon,
the poison and the pit trap
and the insurmountable obstacle of the glass mountain.

She is the means of the lack
and its liquidation.
She can be defeated,
but never dispelled.
After the hero has thrust her into the oven
and gone on to the next step of his journey,
the Hag reconstitutes herself from the ashes,
opens the iron door, and climbs out
to reset her house for the next hero.

This is her purpose and her pride,
her place in the fairytale.
For it is the monsters who make the heroes:
there is no greatness without great challenge,
no advancement without facing the archetypes.

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2 comments or Leave a comment
laffingkat From: laffingkat Date: August 11th, 2011 06:41 am (UTC) (Link)
I find this very satisfying. I like the imagery (the wolves' path, the garden, the gingerbread house, the Hag reconstituting herself from ashes), and I love that she's taking pride in her role in the hero's journey.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: August 11th, 2011 06:52 am (UTC) (Link)


Those all have specific implications in folklore. Wolves are as often maligned as hags -- a subtle power easily misunderstood. The garden is a little patch of cultivated land in a mysterious forest, but keeps potent and dangerous plants ready at hand. Gingerbread, beyond the obvious connection, has its own array of magical spices and requires skill to make well. And what else rises from the ash but a phoenix?

Folklore is as much fun as Tarot. So very many layers.
2 comments or Leave a comment