Longer Narrative Poems
By Josie Whitehead
THE LAIDLY WYRM
OF SPINDLESTON HEUGH
By Josie Whitehead
There’s a castle in Bamburgh that looks out to the sea
With a story, so strange that I think you’ll agree
That it must be a legend just thought up by one
Who wanted to scare you. Now how’s that for fun?
There lived in this castle a king with his wife
And, with two lovely children, they lived a good life;
But their beautiful mother became ill and died,
And all that had loved her were sorry and cried.
Their father decided to find a new wife
For he just couldn’t face a disconsolate life.
His ship left the coast and he sailed far away,
Whilst his daughter watched sadly across the rough bay.
Then her brother left home, seeking freedom and fun,
And she watched his ship leave in the late setting sun.
Poor Princess Margaret spent weeks on her own,
But ‘twas better the future was as yet unknown.
Her father returned with his smiling new queen
Who had long auburn hair and eyes of pure green.
The princess came forward to greet the new wife
And gave them good wishes for their future life.
The king spoke with praise of his daughter so fair,
Of her beautiful eyes and her long golden hair;
But, seeing this girl taking full centre-stage,
The queen became jealous and flew in a rage.
'Am I not the Queen, not this slip of a girl
With her beautiful eyes and long golden curls?'
The rage in her heart soon showed on her face
And she wanted sweet Margaret to go without trace.
She turned on the princess and here’s what she said:
'You’ll not be a princess but a great wyrm instead -
A low laidly wyrm that will crawl amongst rocks,
Not the king’s pretty daughter with long flowing locks!'
Well the princess just thought: 'She surely is joking,'
And therefore these words didn’t seem so provoking.
But though she laughed loud and shook her fair head,
There were others amongst them who shuddered with dread.
Some in that room knew the Queen was a witch,
And, to add to her power, had now become rich.
Their party soon ended and each said goodbye.
As a storm raged outside and rain poured from the sky.
Well, it didn’t take long before news went around
That the princess had vanished but seen on the ground
Was the most awful creature that ever did squirm -
A loathsome and venomous, low laidly wyrm.
This low laidly wyrm of Spindleston Heugh
Was the subject of talk and everyone knew
That beautiful Margaret, now a creature depraved,
Crawled round the rocks and she slept in a cave.
'Every day she drinks milk from seven cows,' someone said.
'Then she coils herself up with the ground as her bed.'
Through villages and towns the story soon flew
Of the frightening creature from Spindleston Heugh.
Her brother, Childe Wynde, in a far distant land,
Fought arduous battles with a sword in his hand,
But, despite these adventures, his thoughts often strayed
To his homeland and sister with whom he had played.
One day news arrived, which caused him concern,
And of the evil monstrosity he quickly did learn.
He thought then of Margaret and fear filled his heart,
So a ship was soon built, and he planned to depart.
Continued on page 2 . . . . .