The white moth-mullein brushed its slim
Cool, faery flowers against his knee;
In places where the way lay dim
The branches, arching suddenly,
Made tomblike mystery for him.
The wild-rose and the elder, drenched
With rain, made pale a misty place, -
From which, as from a ghost, he blenched;
He walking with averted face,
And lips in desolation clenched.
For far within the forest, - where
Weird shadows stood like phantom men,
And where the ground-hog dug its lair,
The she-fox whelped and had her den, -
The thing kept calling, buried there.
One dead trunk, like a ruined tower,
Dark-green with toppling trailers, shoved
Its wild wreck o'er the bush; one bower
Looked like a dead man, capped and gloved,
The one who haunted him each hour.
Now at his side he heard it: thin
As echoes of a thought that speaks
To conscience. Listening with his chin
Upon his palm, against his cheeks
He felt the moon's white finger win.
And now the voice was still: and lo,
With eyes that stared on naught but night,
He saw? - what none on earth shall know! -
Was it the face that far from sight
Had lain here, buried long ago?
But men who found him, - thither led
By the wild fox, - within that place
Read in his stony eyes, 'tis said,
The thing he saw there, face to face,
The thing that left him staring dead.