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Whispers and hearsay, and tales of black cats,
Gossip and torture, for witchfinder facts.
Marched into town with his army of truth,
Rounded up folk, to die without proof.

Women and girls, men killed alongside,
Family and children escaped to hide.
Religious relics won’t save anyone,
By the word of the king, his will be done.

Gullible neighbours called for my fate,
When army returns, I pray for their weight,
Don’t hold to the bottom, torture means death,
For those untrue, I spit out my breath.

Stand in a circle, retelling foul lies,
Ignoring my pleas, and terrified cries.
In the end I cursed them, my truth is told,
The witchfinder, scourge of history old.

Wrists tied to ankles, and I’m fading fast,
The river covers me, the die is cast.
To rise to the surface, the devil’s content,
If I sink, I drown but I’m innocent.

Review Request (Intensity): 
I want the raw truth, feel free to knock me on my back
Review Request (Direction): 
What did you think of my title?
Last few words: 
I picked up the term sink or swim from somehting I was reading and then researched the meaning behind it. The term applies mainly to women who were put to death for often being outspoken, wise women, or offering medicinal help in a time when we only had medicine men or women with knowledge of herbs. Their deaths were based on superstition and christian dogma. Women were not the only ones to be put to death like this. Men also sufferred as a result of their dishonest neighbours :(
Editing stage: 
Content level: 
Not Explicit Content
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The below is a computer-generated response from Neo, Neopoet's computer artificial intelligence:

The poem "Sink or Swim" presents a vivid narrative of historical witch hunts, effectively using imagery and emotion to engage the reader. However, there are areas where the poem could be improved for clarity and impact.

Firstly, the rhythm of the poem seems inconsistent. The poem appears to be written in a loose iambic tetrameter, but there are lines that do not adhere to this pattern. For example, "Gullible neighbours called for my fate," has five stresses, disrupting the rhythm. Consistency in meter can enhance the overall flow and readability of the poem.

Secondly, the use of language could be more precise. The phrase "army of truth" could be ambiguous. If it's meant to be ironic, considering the witchfinder's "truth" is based on superstition and hearsay, it could be made more explicit. If it's not meant to be ironic, a different phrase might better convey the witchfinder's misguided certainty.

Lastly, the narrative could be more coherent. The poem jumps from the witchfinder's arrival to the narrator's drowning without much transition. Providing more context or details about the events leading up to the drowning could make the narrative more engaging and comprehensible.

In conclusion, while the poem effectively conveys the terror and injustice of witch hunts, improvements in rhythm, language use, and narrative coherence could enhance its impact.

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Some brought false testimony against women they envied. Some to get her land and possessions. For whatever reasons it was shameful behavior. The sink or swim thing, if you sank you were still murdered !

I float in water I have to use weights to sink. and I am a witch, lol a candle witch! I sometimes get premonitions.

*Happy Yule, Cat

When someone reads your work
And responds, please be courteous
And reply in kind, thanks.

Ha ha, I sink, not because I am innocent but because my swimming technique is rubbish, although I improved after we started going on holidays where I could practice in the pool.
Thank you for your comments. I know, some of them did it just to get one over on their neighbours. If we put more effort into being kind instead of cruel, this world could be so much better. Have a great holiday, Ruby :) xxx

Give and grow - let's raise our verses together. I'm happy to comment on your work and appreciate a comment on mine.

author comment

Of the Salem Witch trials and how many men and women were killed senselessly because of fictitious dilusions perpetrated by teenage girls. Cruelty disguised in the name of God and Christianity. Great write. I love how your poems make me think


Thanks RoseBlack, yes, they were terrible times for people. And your history is as bad as ours, when the search for witches was widespread across Europe and England. I guess, there will always be people who can manipulate others, be that by witchcraft, politics or the media?

Have a great holiday season, take care, Ruby :) xx

PS, I watched a series a few weeks ago called The Burning Girls on Amazon. It was good, very English in terms of setting and actors and it sort of touches on witches/evil spirits and there's a church in it ha ha.

Give and grow - let's raise our verses together. I'm happy to comment on your work and appreciate a comment on mine.

author comment

The descendant of the last Salem Witch to be hung. I always had a connection to Salem etc and never understood why until I dug into my ancestry. What trying times for all!


Oh wow, that's pretty amazing. It can't be comfortable knowing a past so horrible? I'm certain women/girls were targeted for their natural presence. Ruby :) xx

Give and grow - let's raise our verses together. I'm happy to comment on your work and appreciate a comment on mine.

author comment

Nicely done. This raises multiple feelings for me. It begins with my disgust for organized religion: It was originally used as a means to steal the property of another and/or remove them from a place of power. The collateral damage from it took many innocent lives.

After that, I see the similarity to our current politics of innuendo. We never seem to learn.

Poetry that can bring out such strong feelings is what I consider to be good.


Hi Steve, thank you for reading and commenting. I know exactly what you mean regarding our political systems. The hysteria Trump created and Johnson copied was the straw that broke the camels back.
And religion still plays its part in our politics but most in this country do not take part in religious practices. Ruby :) xx

Give and grow - let's raise our verses together. I'm happy to comment on your work and appreciate a comment on mine.

author comment

I visualize witchhunts and war in this poem! I love the title sink or swim. The one's who swim can tell the truth about the events which might otherwise be falsified by tyrants. This poem made me feel like I was taking a walk back in midevil times. Awesome poem.

Thank you for reading and making a comment.
Yes, this one brings to mind all those Hammer House of Horror films I watched as a child. I often think the history here in England is unique but it's not, there were many dark times in the past across both of our countries.

Welcome to Neopoets, I'm sure you'll get a lot of support and advice here. Take care, Ruby :) xx

Give and grow - let's raise our verses together. I'm happy to comment on your work and appreciate a comment on mine.

author comment
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