TWIST – horror of historic Scottish witch-hunts

Those convicted were almost always strangled at the stake and then their dead body was burned. We have records of 141 sentences specifying an execution method; 120 were for strangling and burning. Of the 17 sentenced simply to burning, many may have been strangled first—though a very small number are known to have been burned alive. In the sentences of beheading (3) and hanging (1), crimes other than witchcraft were also involved. Survey of Scottish Witchcraft, School of History and Classics, Edinburgh University

Twist by Pauline McGee

© Pauline McGee

Pauline and I share a distinctive collaboration. The painting portrays victims of the Scottish witch-finding times and the abuse of the accused. A poet absorbs the image and reacts. The big word is Ekphrasis, we call it #fuse-the-muse.
If you want to hear the poem, read by Mac Logan, you’ll find a link below.
Comments most welcome.


Slim hands extend
A raven’s beak
A bloody flower
They cannot speak … of torment, fear and brutal hate

No gentle friends
Nor fam’ly care
Nor loving touch
For no-one’s there … to love, protect and fairly serve

A sapphire eye
A crystal drop
A ruby splash
Dull spirits flop … no pleading can divert the lash

Crisscrossed skin
Harsh diamond rash
Reproachful glance
The “just” still thrash … and say the devil lies within

From lies to law
Judgement to death
Pleas unheard
A waste of breath … the kindling lies beneath the stake

A blood-red sky
On-rushing doom
Their last morn dawns
Denies the gloom … vile vengeance soon begins

Most floors wither
Yet one grows
Midst sanctimony
Heaven knows … of evil hearts disguised in duty

Exhausted eyes
Have seen so much
And yearn yet for
A loving touch … the tactile loss beyond despair

Scorching flames rise
Primal beauty
As evil hearts
Disguised in duty … lend an ear to fading screams

Ashes smoulder
Bones white glow
And peace descends
For now we know … the awful dark: depraved, unjust

Burnt away
At last they’re free
Centuries late
We hear their plea … and thoughtful eyed move on

© Mac Logan: 8th March 2016

More Fuse-the-Muse here.

Music ℗ Kyle Preston