On a Cave Called Black Annis's Bower being an answer to a very young lady's enquiries about the story of Black Annis.
Where down the plain the winding pathway falls,
From Glenn-field vill, to Lester's ancient walls,
Nature, or Art, with imitative power,
Far in the Glenn has plac'd Black Annis' Bower.
An oak, the pride of all the mossy dell,
Spreads his broad arms above the stony cell;
And many a bush, with hostile thorns array'd,
Forbids the secret cavern to invade;
Whilst delving vales each way meander round,
And violet banks with redolence abound.
Here, if the uncouth song of former days,
Soil not the page with Falsehood's artful lays,
Black Annis held her solitary reign,
The dread and wonder of the neighb'ring plain.
The Shepherd griev'd to view his waning flock,
And trac'd the firstlings to the gloomy rock.
No vagrant children cull'd the flowerets then,
For infant blood oft stain'd the gory den.
Not Sparta Mount* for infant tears renown'd,
Echo'd more frequently the piteous sound.
Oft the gaunt Maid the frantic Mother curs'd,
Whom Britan's wolf with savage nipple nurs'd;
Whilst Lester's sons beheld aghast the scene,
Nor dar'd to meet the Monster of the Green.
'Tis said the soul of mortal man recoil'd
To view Black Annis' eye, so fierce and wild;
Vast talons, foul with human flesh, there grew
In place of hands, and features livid blue
Glar'd in her visage; whilst her obscene waist,
Warm skins of human victims close embrac'd.
But Time, than Man more certain, tho' more slow,
At length 'gainst Annis drew his sable bow;
The great decree the pious Shepherds bless'd,
And general joy the general fear confess'd.
* Mount Taygetus, in a cavern near to which it was the Lacedoemonian custom to expose deformed and weakly children to perish.
From First Flights by John Heyrick junior.
Lieutenant in the Fifteenth (or King's) Regiment of Light Dragoons. Published London 1797