Note: The poem was inspired by an entry in George M. Eberhart’s two-volume encyclopaedia of Mysterious Creatures. In a section relating to Feral People, he refers to a case that took place in 17th Century Sweden, where a young man was sentenced to death for having a love affair with a ‘Skogsra’ – ‘A Wild Woman of The Wood.’ There seem to be three angles for consideration: that the being was a wise woman/shamaness with whom he was undergoing an initiation – hence why the act would have met with so much disapprobation from the Christian Authorities; that the Skogsra is a yeti/big foot-type creature (that have also been known to interbreed with humans); or that the Skogsra is a faery/feminine nature spirit. In the poem, the Skogsra is very much described as being a conflation of those first two suppositions. I hope you enjoy it.
Another day lost in this cruel world,
Another day at the gallows,
But what crime hath he commit,
This young man, so sweet and sallow?
Tender, pale, handsome was he,
But a drunken fervour crazed his eye,
He saith: “Why only in the name of love
Must the innocent be seen to die?
“I die not for love of human flesh,
No woman hath shared my pillow;
The one that I love hides in the hills,
And dances between the willows,
“Yes, the Skogsra is my lover!
The Skogsra is my lover!
Unless I can hath my wild woman free,
I will not live for another!
“No clothes defile my true love’s skin,
No home, nor house, has she,
Her body is covered with moss-soft hairs,
That kindle a flame in me
“She belongeth to a strange, secret race,
That live in the old, sacred woods,
The church says they are demon-folk,
But to me, her kisses taste good!
“In the forest they found, they found us entwined,
Making love in a sweet, silken glade,
My head was between her hairy, strong legs:
In pleasance, her fingers were splayed.
“She tried to save me from these Christian brutes,
To beat them back with her mighty arms,
But they blew her down with a musket shell,
And my love was bereft of her charms.
“’Kill me now!’ I shrieked to these men,
‘Kill me now and set my heart free!
You accuse me here of savagery,
But in the mirror the true savage you’ll see!
“’For in the name of your phantom god,
Christ died on the cross for your sin,
And you kill and kill and kill all the more,
So all can die for your sins again
“’You hang me because the beast within,
Made me love the beast without,
But a beast I am, and a beast I’ll be,
Though I have no horns or a snout!’”
And so, from the gallows, they dropped him down,
Like a sad pendulum he did swing,
And it made me sad to see a young man die
With his heart such a fine, noble thing
I take it upon myself to see his legacy out,
Now into the woods do I roam;
Mind, heart and loins, lusting to find,
The place where The Wild Woman moans