Sunday, October 31, 2010

St. Swithin's Chair


ON Hallowmas Eve, ere ye boune ye to rest,
Ever beware that your couch be bless'd;
Sign it with cross, and sain it with bead,
Sing the Ave, and say the Creed.

For on Hallowmas Eve the Night-Hag will ride,
And all her nine-fold sweeping on by her side,
Whether the wind sing lowly or loud,
Sailing through moonshine, or swathed in the cloud.

The Lady she sat in St. Swithin's Chair,
The dew of the night had damp'd her hair ;
Her cheek was pale....but resolved and high
Was the word of her lip and the glance of her eye-
She muttered the spell of St. Swithin bold,
When his naked foot traced the midnight wold,
When he stopt the Hag as she rode the night,
And bade her descend, and her promise plight.

He that dare sit on St. Swithin's Chair,
When the Night-Hag wings the troubled air,
Questions three, when he speaks the spell,
He may ask, and she must tell.

The Baron has been with King Robert his liege,
These three long years, in battle and siege ;
News there are none of his weal or his wo,
And fain the Lady his fate would know.

She shudders and stops as the charm she speaks
Is it the moody owl that shrieks ?
Or is it that sound, between laughter and scream,
The voice of the Demon who haunts the stream ?

The moan of the wind sunk silent and low,
And the roaring torrent has ceased to flow;
The calm was more dreadful than raging storm,
When the cold grey mist brought the ghastly form !
From "Waverly Poetry: being the poems scattered through the Waverly novels" by Sir Walter Scott.  Happy Halloween!


  1. so did Scott write this ballad or did he adapt it?

  2. If anyone can shed some light on this question, please post a comment.

    Thank you.