The Lubber Fiend

A poem by Madison Julius Cawein

In the woods, not long ago,
Met with Robin Goodfellów;
First we heard his horse-like laugh
In an ivy-bush near by;
Then we saw him, like a calf,
Or a frisky colt, just fly
Kicking high his frantic heels,
Squealing as a scared pig squeals.

Snorting, baaing, neighing too,
Through the woods he fairly flew;
Father followed him, but he
Could n't catch him long of limb
As a grasshopper, you see,
There's no man could capture him:
Then, besides, his color's green,
So he's rarely ever seen.

Often when you're in the woods,
Just a-walking with your moods,
And not thinking; listening how
Still it is, right near your head
Breaks the bellow of a cow
And you drop scared nearly dead:
That's old Robin you can't see
'Cause he's colored like a tree.

And I've heard he calls and calls
In the woods for help, or falls,
Like an urchin, from a tree:
You jump up and shout and run
But there's nothing there to see;
Just a snickering as of fun
in the thicket, or somewhere,
And you're madder than a hare.

Sometimes in dark woods a light
Flashes in your eyes, as bright
As a firefly after rain;
And your eyes are dazzled so
That you shut them look again
Nothing's there. That's Goodfellów,
With his jack-o'-lantern; see?
Hiding in some hollow tree.

These are pranks he plays on men
When he feels all right; but when
He is out of humor, well!
Better keep away! he'll harm:
Leads you with a heifer's bell,
Or horn-lantern, to some farm,
You suppose; but 't is n't! no!
Some old bog in which you go.

Sometimes he's called Puck, they say:
And it was the other day
Father read me from a book
That some people call him Lob
One who haunts the ingle-nook,
Or sits humped upon the hob
Whistling up the chimney-flue
Till the kettle whistles too.

He's the Lubber Fiend, that sweeps
Ashes in your face and creeps
Under cracks when north winds howl;
Hides behind the closet door
And peeps at you, like an owl,
Bumps you shrieking on the floor;
And at night he rides a mare
Round your bed and everywhere.

And he teases dogs that doze
By the fire; and, I suppose,
They must seehim in their dreams
When they snarl and glare o'erhead:
And it's he, or so it seems,
Tumbles children out of bed,
Wakes the house and makes a fuss;
For he's awful mischievous.

That's what I heard father say,
And I know it's true. Some day
I'm a-going to be a boy
Just like Robin; romp and shout,
And kick up my heels for joy,
And scare people round about;
Just play tricks on every one.

Don't you think it would be fun?
Take an old cow-horn, that's harsh
As a frog that haunts the marsh,
And when folks are in their beds
Blow it at the windowsill
Till they cover up their heads;
And when all again is still,
Hear them wonder what it was
That was making all that fuss.

Or I'll make a pumpkin face;
Light, and hide it in some place
Where are bushes; and when men
Come along I'll grunt and groan
Like an old pig in its pen;
When they run I'll throw a stone,
Or just vanish; and they'll say
" What was that, I wonder? eh?"

It would be a lot of fun,
Would n't it? to make folks run;
Jumping at them from the dark
Like a big black dog, oh my!
It would be the greatest lark!
Wonder why it is that I
Can't grow up at once like you
And do things I'd like to do?

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