Website of poet Elizabeth Rimmer


Charm for taking a Swarm of Bees

For containment. Take earth, and place it

Under your right foot, and say

I subdue this under my feet, I claim it,

look, the power of earth is against all others,

against malice, against forgetfulness,

and against the multiple charms of other people.’

Then throw it over the ground

where they swarm, and say:

Sit ye down, battle-wifie, down on the earth.

Never fly away free to the wood.

You must think of my holdings

as a man thinks of his allotted place, his native land.’

From the Corpus Christi College MS41, p182

honey bee on michaelmas daisy

A bit more subtle than ‘Bagsie this!’, no? I’ve been a bit distracted by a book called Leechcraft, by Stephen Pollington, so I haven’t done much translating recently. It is full of erudite scholarship, and makes me think I should look in more depth at my translation of The Charm of Nine Herbs. In particular, my guess that ‘atterlothe’ is burdock, looks very suspect. But my impression that scholars don’t talk to people who have practical knowledge of the herbal tradition does seem to stand up – they assume that all the conversations are between reader and page, whereas in a practical hands-on discipline, people read, and compare and discuss and experiment, and the dialogue is much more between the book and the lived experience.





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