Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Two Margarets

Some of the details in this poem were imagined by me, such as the bread and water verse, but most of it is factual.

The Two Margarets
by Melissa Merritt
October, 2010

Eighteen summers had Margaret Wilson passed,
Now trusting firmly in Jehovah.
Neither parent believing, alas--
They saw her faith as an enigma.

Then the king's men spread throughout the land
Arresting opposers of prelacy.
The Wilson siblings had joined such a band,
Retreating from cave to marsh, the back-country.

It seemed the danger had abated,
So the sisters dined with a friend in town.
This widow's other guests were elated
While they brought the girls--their enemies--down.

As the girls were dragged to prison,
Their hearts drummed fast and loud;
Yet even in the roofless dungeon,
They remembered God rebukes the proud.

The stone door clanked open wide,
But only for a moment, in the gloom.
The girls were pushed and squeezed inside,
'Mid the bodies in that crowded tomb.

One day a lined face appeared before them,
Widow Margaret MacLauchlan, their own.
They gasped and reached each other, then.
"Oh, my friend!" they each did bemoan.

"We must not waver; we must be strong!
The LORD will be our help, I ken."
Thus they waited, bursting out in song,
Fin'lly huddling to sleep after the last amen.

They were brought before the court's bench,
Margaret Wilson and her sister.
"Does the king control the church?
Or does God?" the voices blistered.

"God," they cried in unison,
Young Agnes along with Margaret.
Their sad fate they could envision,
But they turned not to vile regret.

Their father fought to free them,
Paying ransom for the younger;
But Margaret still they would condemn,
Though Mr. Wilson contended longer.

Morning eclipsed morning, nothing changed;
Bread and water were all their meat.
Some pris'ners fell, some grew deranged.
Some shared a cloak for added heat.

'Twas dark each night, no sign of a lantern,
And oft the rain pummeled their heads;
But the true and righteous could not turn,
Not bend, though they ached for soft beds.

They were prepared, these Margarets twain,
Reciting many a verse of God's Holy Writ.
They fainted not in adversity nor died in vain,
No drowning could put out their glow, once lit.

So when the guards came, mocking,
On that pale gray Wigtown dawn,
The torch-lights of the prison wing
Were steadily burning on.

'Twas May of sixteen hundred eighty five
When they were hauled into the tide,
The younger watched the older strive,
And called it the wrestling of Christ inside.

Margaret sang and prayed, unafraid.
They dragged her out, panting, for one more proffer,
But her resolve was not allayed;
Eternity with Christ had more to offer.

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