The Woodland Waterfall

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

Rock and root and fern and flower
They had led him for an hour
To the inmost forest, where,
In a hollow, green with moss,
That the deep ferns trailed across,
Fell a fall, a presence fair,
Syllabling to the air,
Charming with cool sounds the bower.

It was she he used to know
In some land of Long Ago,
Some far land of Yesterday,
Where he listened to her words,
And she lured him, like the birds,
To her lips; and in his way
Danced a bubble or rainbow-ray,
Or a minnow's silvery bow.

Round him now her arms she flung,
And, as dripping there she clung,
In her gaze of green and gold
He beheld a beauty gleam,
And the shadow of a dream,
That to no man hath been told,
Like a Faery tale of old,
Rise up glimmering, ever young.

As his form to hers she drew
In his soul, it seemed, he knew
She was daughter of a king,
Hate-transformed into a fall
By a witch; long-held in thrall,
And condemned to sigh and sing
Till some mortal find the ring,
Charm, that would the spell undo.

In a pool of spray and foam,
With a crystal-bubble dome,
Suddenly he saw the charm:
Newt-like, coiling, there it lay
Could he seize it he would stay,
Master all! and, white and warm,
Clasp the princess in his arm,
Lead her to her palace home!
He would free her; share her crown.

So he thought; and, bare and brown,
Clove the water at a blow.
But, behold, a mottled form,
Like a newt's, stretched out an arm,
Crimson-freckled, from below;
And before his heart could know,
With wild laughter drew him down.

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