Pale as Death, Naked as Sin, and Witched

THOMASIN: Black Phillip, I conjure thee to speak to me. […]Dost thou understand my English tongue? Answer me.

BLACK PHILLIP: What dost thou want?

THOMASIN: What canst thou give?

BLACK PHILLIP: Wouldst thou like the taste of butter? A pretty dress? Wouldst thou like to live deliciously?


BLACK PHILLIP: Wouldst thou like to see the world?

THOMASIN: What will you from me?

BLACK PHILLIP: Dost thou see a book before thee? […]I will guide thy hand…


My portion of the blame
does not absolve yours. How
still the hand which subtled
recursive those curses’
curves. Blurred words return burns,
reborn hurt we four mourn.


Pour, then, what rumour our
room holds. Hands on walls, palms
turned to ward cold colour
prayer warms, how shoulders fall
in hard warnings dropped skulls
ignore. Roll, contort, writhe.


Write withering tendrils
of calls winter light chills,
intone fits of shadow
this box windows our wills
to mirror. Each against
one, together tendoned.


With jawbone bent, inward
held, hold yet still relic
weapons wet until sweat
drips penitent. From chests
pluck pelt, excise thread strands
relent to test fangs. Cut.


Glimpse, then, peripheral
incisions this moment
permits the present to
split its treasury of
future memories to
spend. Eye from the side grins.


These corner portents we
lens are this room’s portals
its liminal princes
want us to ignore when,
pale as death, naked as
sin, we end up witched men.

Notate Bene:
☞ The title is derived from a line of dialogue spoken of his son, Caleb (portrayed by Harvey Scrimshaw), by William (Ralph Ineson), the family patriarch, to his daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), in the film The Witch, written and directed by Robert Eggers, produced by Parts & Labor, RT Features, Rooks Nest Entertainment, Maiden Voyage Pictures, and Mott Street Pictures in association with Code Red Productions, Scythia Films, Pulse Films, and Special Projects, and distributed with a theatrical release worldwide by A24 in 2015; time code 1:01:55–1:01:58.
1Robert Eggers, in his screenplay for the film cited above, which he also directed, wherein the family’s eldest daughter Thomasin (portrayed, as mentioned, by Anya Taylor-Joy) makes a pact with the Devil in the guise of the family he-goat, Black Phillip (voiced by Wahab Chaudhry); time code 1:23:07–1:25:15.