The Ghosts' High Noon

A poem by William Schwenck Gilbert

When the night wind howls in the chimney cowls, and the bat in the moonlight flies,
And inky clouds, like funeral shrouds, sail over the midnight skies
When the footpads quail at the night-bird's wail, and black dogs bay the moon,
Then is the spectres' holiday - then is the ghosts' high noon!

As the sob of the breeze sweeps over the trees, and the mists lie low on the fen,
From grey tombstones are gathered the bones that once were women and men,
And away they go, with a mop and a mow, to the revel that ends too soon,
For cockcrow limits our holiday - the dead of the night's high noon!

And then each ghost with his ladye-toast to their churchyard beds take flight,
With a kiss, perhaps, on her lantern chaps, and a grisly grim "good night";
Till the welcome knell of the midnight bell rings forth its jolliest tune,
And ushers our next high holiday - the dead of the night's high noon!

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