Friday, September 4, 2015

National Emergency

Dawn Potter

Whosoever travels over this Wilderness
sees it richly bespangled with Evangelical
Churches, blameless emporia, a Hopeful
tangle of high-ways, hamlets, and Smoke.
Americans are the People of God,
the Utmost parts of Earth our Possession.
Soon we shall enjoy Halcyon Days,
with all the Vultures of hell
Trodden under our Feet.

Yet a thousand preternatural Things
beyond the Wonders of the former Ages
rise every day before our eyes, and they threaten
a sort of Dissolution upon the World.
The Devil has increas’d a dreadful Knot of Witches
in the Country. Spectres inflict our neighbours;
wicked Scholars range with their Poisonous
Insinuations among the discontented People.
Publick Safety forces an Exigency. To wit:—

Witches are wont to practise their mischievous Facts
by Cursing. Observe the young Mother
wak’d in the Cloudy dawn by her Child’s lament.
Does she Leap forth, Eager to soothe him at her Bosom?—
or, obstinate and Froward, lie rigid as a Corpse,
pull the heated covers to her chin, and Curse
softly, a crafty Decoy to charm her Partner
from his well-earn’d rest and Cheat him
into Stumbling forth?

Some add this for a Presumption:
a mark whereof no evident Reason in Nature
can be given. Consider, now,
the Boy in his first flower, strong and tall,
sprouting, between Darkness and Day,
a Pimple, whereof its Exorbitance, like the fires of Baal,
devoureth all joy;—and this Boy,
once clean-temper’d as the Lamb,
doth Erupt in heathen Malice like a Fiend.

And here is Evidence of witchcraft:
That the party hath entertain’d a Familiar Spirit,
and had Conference with it, in the likeness
of some visible Creature:
as the Beldame who travels our Holy roads,
a spotted Dog her prancing consort,
suffers him to spew infernal Barks,
raise clamour and complaint,
yet, without Affliction, smiles at his Anticks.

Perchance, the suspected person
hath used Enchantments, divineth things
before they come to pass, peremptorily raiseth
Tempests:—judge ye of Weather-men
and Windy commentators; yea, even jug-ear’d
Leaders soaring aloft in Vain glorious Fits.
Says the Devil,
Think thy self better than other Men.
Be some-body.

If the party examin’d be Unconstant,
or contrary to himself, in his deliberate Answers,
this argueth a Guilty Conscience.
And yet there are causes of Astonishment
which may befall the Good as well as Bad.
To wrangle the Devil out of the Country
will be truly a New Experiment:—
Unite, then! and lay bare his Thorny
business, therein serving both God and Men.

It is a Principle, that when our Lord permits
Spirits from the unseen Regions to visit us
with surprizing Information, we must enquire.
In our Troubled Sea, Mire and Mud heave up apace.
America is stock’d with Rattle Snakes.
We must Combine to deliver our neighbours
from the horrid Annoyances of witchcraft.
We are Safe, when we make Perfect use
of Invisible Advice, as God proffers it.

[from How the Crimes Happened (CavanKerry Press, 2010)]


Carlene said...

Sometimes, your blog is more than a gift. =) I am teaching Mather next week; this poem will be perfect for my lesson. Well, it's awesome anyhow..but you know what I mean.

Thanks for posting, and for reading my mind.

Dawn Potter said...

Glad to be of service!