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The Witch

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Poem Activity

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Read this poem aloud and find the two voices we hear, the narrator and 'The Witch'. How did they meet? Where? What happened? Why might the narrator be telling us about it now?

In the first two verses, 'The Witch' asks to be let in at the door of a house. Look at how she describes herself. How does this description compare with other witches you know about?

In the first two lines of the third verse, the narrator describes the witch’s voice. How might someone sound if they ‘plead for their heart’s desire’?

Read the poem aloud again, using your voice to distinguish between 'The Witch' and the narrator. Think about how to bring out the poem's unsettling spookiness.

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I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart’s desire.
She came—she came—and the quivering flame
Sunk and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.

The Witch

by Mary Elizabeth Coleridge