The Bright Rider

A poem by John Frederick Freeman

All the night through I drank
Sleep like water or cool cider;
Life flowed over and I sank
Down below the night of clouds....
Then on a pale horse was rider
Through long brushing woods
Where the owl in silence broods,
Quavers, and is quiet again;
Where the grass dark and rank
Breathes on the still air its rain.
Rain and dark and green and sound
Closing slowly round
Swept me as I rode,
And rode on until I came
Where a white cold river flowed
Under woods thin and bare
In the moon's long candle flame.
Through the woods the wind crawled
Leviathan, and here and there
Branches creaked and old winds howled
Sick for home.
All the night I saw the river,
As a girl that sees beside her
Love, between fear and fear
Riding, and is dumb.
The white horse turned to cross the river,
But the waters like a wall
Rose and hung dark over all;
And as they fell the river wider
Wider grew, and sky was bare
Save of the sick candle's stare.
Death the divider
Glittered cold and dark and deep
Under banks of fear.
But that rider
Trembling, bright, rode on,
Trembling and bright rode on
Through green lanes of sleep.

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