Date of composition, and textual history. These lines were composed at the beginning of Jan. 1906, and were substantially completed by 3 Jan. They form one part of a very protracted revision and re-writing process for WBY's play At Baile's Strand, which had been going on for about a year. WBY informed JQ on 29 Jan. 1905 that ‘I am re-writing ‘Baile's Strand’ (CL 4, 30), and on 20 Feb. he told AG that ‘I am all but finished with ‘Baile's Strand’ (CL 4, 42), but he was at work revising the play further by May (CL 4, 90). On 30 May, the poet could tell AG that On Baile's Strand in its revised form would be included in his planned volume P99–05 with A.H. Bullen (CL 4, 106); this did not come to pass until Oct. 1906, by which time ‘Against Witchcraft’ had already appeared in the spring 1906 number of The Shanachie in Dublin. WBY was in communication with George Roberts (who, as part of the Maunsel publishing house, was involved in editing the first Shanachie) on 8 Nov. 1905 (CL 4, 217), but there is no evidence of an excerpted chorus from On Baile's Strand being offered to the journal at this time by the poet. By Dec., WBY was again rewriting his play (in the wake of English performances that autumn by the Irish National Theatre), telling JQ how ‘I made Bullen stop the publication of my new book [P99–05] which was half printed that I might work on the play again [. . .] I think I am getting it right this time’ (CL 4, 240). It is not until a letter to AG of 3 Jan. 1906 that WBY makes reference to these choral lines, in a brief postscript saying ‘Have written the lyrical bit for Baile's Strand’ (CL 4, 278): this (as the editors of CL 4 suggest) is very likely a reference to the lines written to accompany the swearing of an oath of obedience from Cuchulain to Conchubar in the play. The following day, the poet reported further to AG that ‘I have done good work on Baile's Strand [. . .] I have done the lyrical bit in rhyme – quite short but sufficient’ (CL 4, 282); WBY was also able to tell Bullen that he had completed ‘thirty lines of a lyric chorus’ on 13 Feb. (CL 4, 338). WBY's ‘thirty’ is likely to be approximate; but even so, the first printed version has forty lines, and it is possible that composition continued past this date. There are two surviving MS versions. MS1 (NLI 30403, repr. with transcription in the Cornell On Baile's Strand: Manuscript Materials (2014) eds. J. Curtis and D. Kiely) is lacking the final six lines of the printed version, while MS2, a version contained in a letter from WBY to Florence Farr of 16 Feb. (CL 4, 341–342), ends at the same point and also lacks the first seventeen lines. In his letter, WBY explains that the lines were ‘suggested in some vague way by your letter, only suggested I mean in phantasmal exaggeration of some sentence’ (Farr's letter is now lost). Another version (Berg Collection, NYPL) carries only 28 lines that are typed, with the opening six and closing six lines added in WBY's hand: this too ends its typed section at the same point as MS1 and the letter to Farr (TS, repr. and transcribed in Cornell edn., 450–451). One other version in WBY's hand is NLI 30384, a fair copy which seems to have been used in preparations for the performance of 14 Apr. 1906; this carries musical notations for a number of lines, connected with the singing (possibly with psaltery accompaniment) of the chorus (MS3); it is repr. and transcribed in Cornell edn., 372–375. In MS3, WBY's spelling error (‘Woe-man’) may disclose something of the lines’ orientation with regard to sexual and magical conflicts. The revised play opened in Dublin on 14 Apr. 1906, and the publication of the chorus towards the end of May in The Shanachie was therefore timely. The new version of On Baile's Strand was included in P99–05; subsequent editions including the play have only very minor differences from the 1906 text, and are not collated here. Since WBY did not reprint these lines as anything other than as part of the play, their form in The Shanachie is the copy-text for the present edition.