The Cup Of Comus - Proem

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

The Nights of song and story,
With breath of frost and rain,
Whose locks are wild and hoary,
Whose fingers tap the pane
With leaves, are come again.

The Nights of old October,
That hug the hearth and tell,
To child and grandsire sober,
Tales of what long befell
Of witch and warlock spell.

Nights, that, like gnome and faery,
Go, lost in mist and moon,
And speak in legendary
Thoughts or a mystic rune,
Much like the owlet's croon.

Or whirling on like witches,
Amid the brush and broom,
Call from the Earth its riches,
Of leaves and wild perfume,
And strew them through the gloom.

Till death, in all his starkness,
Assumes a form of fear,
And somewhere in the darkness
Seems slowly drawing near
In raiment torn and sere.

And with him comes November,
Who drips outside the door,
And wails what men remember
Of things believed no more,
Of superstitious lore.

Old tales of elf and dæmon,
Of Kobold and of Troll,
And of the goblin woman
Who robs man of his soul
To make her own soul whole.

And all such tales, that glamoured
The child-heart once with fright,
That aged lips have stammered
For many a child's delight,
Shall speak again to-night.

To-night, of moonlight minted,
That is a cup divine,
Whence Death, all opal-tinted,
Wreathed red with leaf and vine,
Shall drink a magic wine.

A wonder-cup of Comus,
That with enchantment streams,
In which the heart of Momus,
That, moon-like, glooms and gleams,
Is drowned with all its dreams.

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