The Song of Sally Weaver

When I change from woman to hare, I shrink
but am never diminished. It’s freedom,

I feel it keenly; the close-packed power
of muscles made to run, the speed that feels

like flight and the joy of a barefoot streak
across close-cropped turf and deep green valleys. ...

About the poem

This poem was published by Riggwelter Press in January 2019.

The poem was inspired by a local legend about a woman who could transform into a hare and run across the South Downs. The legend stipulated that her magic was contained within a necklace, and if she gave this necklace to a suitor, she would lose her power of transformation.

The legend made me think about connections to the natural world and the vulnerability of nature. I also thought about the freedom that changing form provides; the idea that a woman could transform into a hare is common in folklore. In some versions, the woman would transform into a hare in order to steal cheese and run away, which is a wonderful idea and a power I wish I had. More broadly, the stories speak of the freedom these women had, unshackled from their status and gender.

In this poem, I wanted to contrast the different ideas of freedom and vulnerability. I loved exploring the idea of what transformation would feel like, and what it would mean. I also identified with the idea that romance could be a trap - I know this may not be the case but after you’ve been on your own for a while, it’s certainly a relatable idea. One of the reasons I love studying local folklore is because, despite the age of the stories they still feel fresh and as relevant as ever.