The Gray Sisters

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

What is that which walks by night
In flying tatters of leaves and weeds,
When the clouds rush by like daemon steeds,
And the moon is a jack-o'-lantern light
Low in the pool's dark reeds?
What is that, like a soul who sinned?
Is it a witch? or the Autumn wind?
What is that which sits and glowers
Under the trees by the forest pool?
With a cloak of moss whence the raindrops drule,
Chilling the air with a sense of showers
And touch of the cold toadstool:
What is that, with its breath of gloom?
Is it a witch? or the Fall perfume?
What is that in a mantle of gray,
With rags, like water, that wreathe and wind?
That gropes the forest, as if to find
A path, long-lost, on its midnight way,
Shadowy, old and blind:
What is that, so white and whist?
Is it a witch? or the Autumn mist?
You may have met them; you may have heard;
As I have heard them; as I have met:
The three gray sisters of wind and wet
Each With a spell or a cryptic word
Working her magic yet:
The three gray sisters, the witches old,
Daughters of Autumn, who haunt the wold.

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