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Excerpts from Seven Anglian Spells

December 19, 2009

by Andrew McCallum


the house appointed for judgement
marked by an arrow bearing certain signs
to assemble the multitude

a decisive place
where we lieutenants add our arrows to
that of the headsman
pushing them into the soft belly of the earth
to signal our kinship
planting a henge that shall
over time
grow into chapels and parliaments

the house appointed for judgement
two or three men clad in the pelts of beasts
heads close
conferring on a skyline


aaron’s beard

a charm against enchantment
a cure for bad milk
a sprig placed in the milk pail
before milking afresh

a sprig hid with cunning
from the priests
about one’s person
against their malignancy



earth baked hard
almost glass

a bead
a lentil
an unnatural device
disguised by name and

to protect against
the uncanniness of nature



land taken in from the forest

like the dogs that scavenge our touns
accepting sometimes
a kind hand
a docile word

that warn the approach of our enemies
yet slink back to the wilderness
when the spirit takes them

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Andrew McCallum is a widely published and award-winning poet from southern Scotland. The countryside around his home is littered with relics of his forebears, who speak through them from as far back as mesolithic times, and with whom Andrew strongly identifies in his poetry. Heideggerian in temperament, Andrew is convinced that language is constructive of the world inhabited by the language user; hence the incantatory or ‘spell-like’ character of the old Anglian words he casts in this poem.

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