“On Approaching Pendle Hill”: a new poem by Ben Myers

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On approaching Pendle Hill


The path up to Pendle. The sleeping beast. The purple skies.

Folk tell of witches burned or branded or drowned or hung
up there. They tell of failed crops, stillborn calves, murrain.

Always the women. Always the witches. Never the men.
Never the frost, never mastitis or scours or footrot; never
blackthorn or angel trumpet, hemlock, ragwort or lupine.

Never in drink or lust or fear or guilt. Never in penance or
madness. It’s always the women. It’s always the witches.

The path past Pendle. The buried bones. The violaceous skies.




“On Approaching Pendle Hill” appears in Benjamin Myers’s collection Heathcliff Adrift (New Writing North). The poems are also currently exhibited at the Brontë Parsonage Museum, Haworth, alongside photographs by Nick Small, until 8 June.

Ben Myers’ novels include Pig Iron and Richard, a Sunday Times book of the year. His writing has appeared in The Guardian, NME, Mojo, Time Out, 3:AM Magazine, Caught By The River and many others. www.benmyersmanofletters.blogspot.com

This article appears in the 24 April 2015 issue of the New Statesman, What does England want?