Poem Robert Frost

The Pauper Witch of Grafton

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Now that they’ve got it settled whose I be,

I’m going to tell them something they won’t like:

They’ve got it settled wrong, and I can prove it.

Flattered I must be to have two towns fighting

To make a present of me to each other.

They don’t dispose me, either one of them,

To spare them any trouble. Double trouble’s

Always the witch’s motto anyway.

I’ll double theirs for both of them—you watch me.

They’ll find they’ve got the whole thing to do over,

That is, if facts is what they want to go by.

They set a lot (now don’t they?) by a record

Of Arthur Amy’s having once been up

For Hog Reeve in March Meeting here in Warren.

I could have told them any time this twelvemonth

The Arthur Amy I was married to

Couldn’t have been the one they say was up

In Warren at March Meeting for the reason

He wa’n’t but fifteen at the time they say.

The Arthur Amy I was married to

Voted the only times he ever voted,

Which wasn’t many, in the town of Wentworth.

One of the times was when ’twas in the warrant

To see if the town wanted to take over

The tote road to our clearing where we lived.

I’ll tell you who’d remember—Heman Lapish.

Their Arthur Amy was the father of mine.

So now they’ve dragged it through the law courts once

I guess they’d better drag it through again.

Wentworth and Warren’s both good towns to live in,

Only I happen to prefer to live

In Wentworth from now on; and when all’s said,

Right’s right, and the temptation to do right

When I can hurt someone by doing it

Has always been too much for me, it has.

I know of some folks that’d be set up

At having in their town a noted witch:

But most would have to think of the expense

That even I would be. They ought to know

That as a witch I’d often milk a bat

And that’d be enough to last for days.

It’d make my position stronger, think,

If I was to consent to give some sign

To make it surer that I was a witch?

It wa’n’t no sign, I s’pose, when Mallice Huse

Said that I took him out in his old age

And rode all over everything on him

Until I’d had him worn to skin and bones.

And if I’d left him hitched unblanketed

In front of one Town Hall, I’d left him hitched

In front of every one in Grafton County.

Some cried shame on me not to blanket him,

The poor old man. It would have been all right

If some one hadn’t said to gnaw the posts

He stood beside and leave his trade mark on them,

So they could recognize them. Not a post

That they could hear tell of was scarified.

They made him keep on gnawing till he whined.

Then that same smarty someone said to look—

He’d bet Huse was a cribber and had gnawed

The crib he slept in—and as sure’s you’re born

They found he’d gnawed the four posts of his bed,

All four of them to splinters. What did that prove?

Not that he hadn’t gnawed the hitching posts

He said he had besides. Because a horse

Gnaws in the stable ain’t no proof to me

He don’t gnaw trees and posts and fences too.

But everybody took it for a proof.

I was a strapping girl of twenty then.

The smarty someone who spoiled everything

Was Arthur Amy. You know who he was.

That was the way he started courting me.

He never said much after we were married,

But I mistrusted he was none too proud

Of having interfered in the Huse business.

I guess he found he got more out of me

By having me a witch. Or something happened

To turn him round. He got to saying things

To undo what he’d done and make it right,

Like, “No, she ain’t come back from kiting yet.

Last night was one of her nights out. She’s kiting.

She thinks when the wind makes a night of it

She might as well herself.” But he liked best

To let on he was plagued to death with me:

If anyone had seen me coming home

Over the ridgepole, ’stride of a broomstick,

As often as he had in the tail of the night,

He guessed they’d know what he had to put up with.

Well, I showed Arthur Amy signs enough

Off from the house as far as we could keep

And from barn smells you can’t wash out of ploughed ground

With all the rain and snow of seven years;

And I don’t mean just skulls of Roger’s Rangers

On Moosilauke, but woman signs to man,

Only bewitched so I would last him longer.

Up where the trees grow short, the mosses tall,

I made him gather me wet snow berries

On slippery rocks beside a waterfall.

I made him do it for me in the dark.

And he liked everything I made him do.

I hope if he is where he sees me now

He’s so far off he can’t see what I’ve come to.

You can come down from everything to nothing.

All is, if I’d a-known when I was young

And full of it, that this would be the end,

It doesn’t seem as if I’d had the courage

To make so free and kick up in folks’ faces.

I might have, but it doesn’t seem as if.

A Star In A Stone Boat
The Witch of Coos


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