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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 in Love


Whimsical he is, with a mind of smiles.

He has man's gift for telling tales by fires –

how he dropped his heavy tankard, seeing his wife,

flushed from rain, bird-flustered, at the tavern gate,

a shape so beautiful he sluiced his feet.

Waded through the beer and made her wet –

her hand, I mean, by taking it. They laugh,

and I laugh too, wet pebble between thumbs,

new moth in the stable, with the wine-drums.

My night-gown tortures me: it is made,

almost, of nothing but the night. The milky glass

shows the thousand moon-beams in his hair,

small flecks of time that do not burden it,

but make it light as days must be for lovers.

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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