The Wood Witch

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

There is a woodland witch who lies
With bloom-bright limbs and beam-bright eyes,
Among the water-flags that rank
The slow brook's heron-haunted bank.
The dragon-flies, brass-bright and blue,
Are signs she works her sorcery through;
Weird, wizard characters she weaves
Her spells by under forest leaves,
These wait her word, like imps, upon
The gray flag-pods; their wings, of lawn
And gauze; their bodies, gleaming green.
While o'er the wet sand, left between
The running water and the still,
In pansy hues and daffodil,
The fancies that she doth devise
Take on the forms of butterflies,
Rich-coloured. And 'tis she you hear,
Whose sleepy rune, hummed in the ear
Of silence, bees and beetles purr,
And the dry-droning locusts whirr;
Till, where the wood is very lone,
Vague monotone meets monotone,
And slumber is begot and born,
A faery child beneath the thorn.
There is no mortal who may scorn
The witchery she spreads around
Her din demesne, wherein is bound
The beauty of abandoned time,
As some sweet thought 'twixt rhyme and rhyme.
And through her spells you shall behold
The blue turn gray, the gray turn gold
Of hollow heaven; and the brown
Of twilight vistas twinkled down
With fireflies; and in the gloom
Feel the cool vowels of perfume
Slow-syllabled of weed and bloom.
But, in the night, at languid rest,
When like a spirit's naked breast
The moon slips from a silver mist,
With star-bound brow, and star-wreathed wrist,
If you should see her rise and wave
You welcome ah! what thing could save
You then? for evermore her slave!

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