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Ben Morgan: a poem

Author's note

Baba Yaga is a witch from Slavic folktale. Sometimes seen as dangerous and violent, she is also a healer and a wise woman, living in harmony with the cold, Slavic forests and often consulted for her wisdom.

This sequence attempts to imagine, and recover, her experience of nature and her relationship to human beings and their bonds of love and family. It excerpts two mini-sequences, the first, "Baba Yaga's Nativity", describing her birth and life in her forest, and the second, "Baba Yaga In Love", her memories of falling in love with a man from a nearby settlement.

Baba Yaga's Nativity


Do not quibble with me, traveller.

The oven my dainties cooked in was the sun,

The cold room that I kept them in the moon.

So eat them, drink them, uncomplainingly.

Admire the forest view, the hard-eyed pines,

The mountains slouched across their game of cards, And that one squirrel that will surely court you –

Eyes like pins of glass, seeming

Somehow to call you by your name.

Clean your dish, drain your tankard dry.

When it comes to payment, do not be clever:

Leave me one gold coin, or else a pair.

Nod to the owl on the gate, as it shines

The bright blades of its feathers.

Ben Morgan is a poet and academic based in Oxford, UK. His first poetry pamphlet, Medea in Corinth: Poems, Prayers, Letters, and a Curse, was published by Poetry Salzburg in 2018. It retold the famous myth through poetic letters, spells, prayers, sonnets and songs, as well as theatrical interludes. He has also published poems in Oxford Poetry and at The Sunday Tribune and The High Window. He has taught Shakespeare studies and early modern literature at a number of colleges in Oxford and is completing a monograph on Shakespeare and human rights for Princeton University Press.


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