Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Cat in The Well

First, to all in the path of Sandy, my heartfelt sympathy and concern, and hopes that you will be digging your way out of the mess and back to some sort of normal life as soon as possible. I hope everyone, especially all our friends and poetic connections throughout the fine spun web of the internet blogging community, is safe and well tonight.

In honor of Samhain/All Hallows, etc, I am reposting a  fanciful Halloween horror poem I wrote last year, and hope it will be diverting and distracting after all the real horrors and stress of the last few days for many. 

Lassie, Go Get Help!

The Cat in the Well
A Halloween Fantasia

My name is not Odin (I forget my name) but I’ve lived
in the well for a mad moon’s making, alone with the roots
the deep water oozing and lapping the bones’ sweet arch
that lifts my home, my tumulus a wet black mouth, alone
till the cat fell. My dying was long, my strength nearly gone
till the cat fell, till the cat came down the well.

Odin was a god, (so I heard before this spell) death gave him back,
yet a well took him in, his eye for a drink from the frost giant’s blood
below the world tree. I am not he, but a shrunken spriggan,
devil’s daughter, giants’ kin hung here stranded in small skin
to guard what I can't spend, when the faith gave way gave out gave in.
Even the dark forgets my names, forgets my games,
even the dark, till the one I played at with the fallen cat.

Because when the cat fell the light (so remote, so far above) blazed
sudden and sure it could end the dead dream that crawls
through my veins of a land where we once loomed large long gone,
because of that I let him live, alone of them all. He took my hands,
he took my tongue, he gave his eyes, I loth to stop what he’d begun.
He took my tongue the cat that fell, the cat that came down the well.

So we climbed mossy walls (my cat tail lashing) dank with the muck
of an ancient thralling, slippery with uneaten grief, treasure slid wry,
each stone a stele for a life thrown away, each drop in the bucket red
until we came to the rim, and his amber eyes set in mine
began to shine, began to glow so all should know
the spirit cat was up from the well, with many another tale to tell;
the spirit cat that fell, the cat that came up from the well.

October 26,2011

Posted for   OpenLinkNight   at dVerse Poets Pub

If you'd like to hear the poem read by the author, please click below:
the cat in the well by Hedgewitch O'theWilds

I've mingled (or perhaps mangled) several different archetypes here:
Odin, god of war, poetry,prophecy and magic in Norse myth traded his eye for a drink from Mimir's well, where the ancient wisdom of the frost giants was said to flow up from beneath the world tree Yygdrasil from the primordial void of Chaos.
A spriggan is a mostly malevolent spirit from Cornish folklore, generally found guarding treasure in burial mounds or the like, believed to be small ghosts of an earlier race of giants.
Cats, of course, were thought to be malignant, and often said to be familiars of witches or demons in medieval belief. Other cultures, such as the Ancient Egyptians, have held them sacred, and believed they possessed various magical qualities.

Special thanks to my son for the video he sent, which set me off on this particular trip, and to Brendan, wherever he has gone, for his past input on the one-eyed god of the hanged.

Image credits: Header, Lassie,Go Get Help, by Sean McTex, on flick'r
Photo of the Marilyn Collins sculpture in Parkland Walk, London, UK,  by Nflook via wikipedia,
Both shared under a Creative Commons License.


  1. if your name was odin you could be president though...smiles...the thought of falling in a well itself brings terror...do you remember that kid that fell down the well back in the 80s...that terrified me as a kid...really love the form...the repitition in the closing lines of each is rather haunting itself hedge...

  2. Please, oh cat that came from the well, don't cross my trail! Your voice really works for this one. The idea of a being so ancient not only it but the darkness itself has forgotten its name, makes me shiver.

    Noticed your thanks to Brendan. He would love this. I hope he's doing well (sorry) wherever he is. I like to think he is gestating new myths for us.

    1. Thank you, Mark. Yes, Brendan was very generous in his help with this one. I miss his poetry very much.

  3. the veil so thin it becomes the interface. I am with the egyptians believing cats have various mystical qualities -finding the mystical as malignant is a perspective based in fear, i suppose. This is a terrific Samhain share. I'm glad you revived The Cat in The Well for 2012.

    1. Yes,cats have that egyptian Eye for me always. And that's where we hedgeriders like to hang out--the interface. Thanks much, Jane.

  4. Wow
    For this not to be published, with grand archaic illustrations, is truly, nothing short of a literary tragedy.
    Each word, each line, is a come hither to another clue.
    The flow and rhythm are purely magical. The content deep and full.
    I bow to it's charm in telling

    1. I wish I could have found some good pics for it--there was an Aubrey Beardsley one that was rather nifty, but I really wanted that image of the yawning deep well up top. Thanks for reading, and for the kind words, rick.


  5. hey hedge

    Odin being my church an'all i prayed for this one . . .

    excellent in the telling. It has the circular drag
    of the well built in to its scheme - the blackhole suck
    tempting the thirsty to drink . . .

    even if i only took "shrunken spriggan" with me i would be satisfied . . . but the whole - images, refs, tone and outline
    of entrapment and snare . . .

    the pussy abyss (my favourite kind)

    happy hallows hedge

    1. Thanks, Arron. I'll be by to sample your own fare later--hope it doesn't keep me up all night.

  6. Ha - a very spooky poem indeed - What I find most intriguing is the reversal - you keep writing about what the cat took, while it seems to me that you are the one doing the inhabiting. And a very funny reversal too on the cat got your tongue. Ha.

    Thanks for your kind comments and concern. I am just really tired right now, should be working on my professional work, but just kind of beat. k.

    1. I can imagine--first the stress, then the evac, then more stress--I'm glad you're safe but know you must be feeling like a piece of chewed string atm. Thanks for reading--I'm feeling guilty our weather here is so gorgeous, but I have to get a million things done in the garden before it changes back to its normal unpredictable self.

    2. Good luck with garden! k .

  7. And now, here, surrounded by four cats, I am looking at them all quite differently ;-)

    This is fabulous, the language, the rhythm, the repetition, so eery and enthralling all at once.

    Loved it all, but my favorite line:
    "giants’ kin hung here stranded in small skin"

  8. Wow, this one I find still haunting me a year later. The video was super creepy. You tell the best stories in the firelight.

  9. An excellent write, Joy. Happy Halloween to you :)

  10. This is fabulous! Incredible! So artful! A wonderful mix of story and poetry and Boo!

  11. I am enthralled with the merger of spirits in the well. It makes me think of thoughts I've had before but they won't quite materialize for me..so I suppose it's dreams, myth, and fears converging here in a lovely piece that makes use of all those elements, expertly yours. Happy All Hallows Eve, you verdant witch you!

  12. I remember this. I loved it then, and love it now.

  13. Goodness! Absolutely lovely. Such a beautiful language (and voice—you tell it so well). I’m impressed. I’ll take it all, but for now I’ll take this:

    “where we once loomed large long gone”

    Can’t say more, now; you stole all the words.

  14. Joy Ann, you use of imagery is always top-notch. That second stanza is awesome. Happy Hallow's Eve, my friend.


  15. Creepily beautiful, and beautifully creepy. But like the Egyptians, I hold the cat to be sacred. I have to say that cuz my cat, Garbo is watching. Great write, Hedge...and thank you so very much for your concern during the reign of Sandy! :))

  16. Excellent video, and the poem does a great job conveying the feeling. thanks Hedge

  17. Very creepy! The repetition at the end of each verse makes it all the creepier. And of course cats have magical powers. It's always best to stay on the good side of a cat.

  18. Oh eerie, your reading was equally so... I shall say this possessed cat may haunt my dreams... a perfect Halloween treat.

  19. What a wonderful read this was. I too agree that with illustrations, you've have quite a nice book for many to enjoy and share. As a cat lover (with two cats who fell from a third floor railing at a former house), this poem was a real treat.

  20. i think cats are mysterious creatures in a way...they always have this aura..even if they just walk across a street in broad daylight...the one thing that i found most spooky and frightening in this was the forgetting the name...somehow scares me...sorry i'm so late hedge..thought i'd have more time over here but...

  21. Awesome story, and the telling of it is masterful! I enjoyed this very much!

  22. I love the repitition here... very effective. Great story! Happy Halloween, Joy!

  23. Superbly written piece...enthralling. And I agree...the repetition makes for haunting effect.

  24. You have a tumulus, I have a dolmen.

    This is one captivating piece of writing.. stretching worlds and times with fine language. Real characterisation at the heart of the poem for me.. those asides make a huge contribution I find.

  25. This is the perfect Halloween tale. Such an impeccable storytelling gift you have, narrative is delightful. Loved this, all the symbolism entwined exceptionally, but you know, you had me with Odin :) Putting the Origin/frost giants myth here was awesome. Thanks

  26. Hedge, I'm sorry I missed this poem, but I missed it because I was out of my head. (oral surgery!) but I am glad I didn't because today my son, fresh home on leave from a year on the seas (Navy) got a chance to read this, and he really studied it, (unusual for him...he doesn't even read my poetry!) and he loved it. He worked his way through the poem, and heard your voice, and it went down deep, as I could see.

    Haunting, Hedge, as I would expect from you....especially on this date! LOL!

    Lady Nyo

    1. So glad your son enjoyed this--and that he is home with you and you chose to spend some of that precious time here, Jane. I'm honored and grateful.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats