In the Dark Forest
Leigh Gordon Giltner
The long gray twilight falls and deeper glooms
Close round the graying wood that dimmer grows
As dies the Day's last yearning tint of rose,
And Dusk spins shadows on her eldritch looms.
The black bat flits, the eerie white moth flies--
Wan ghost of yesterday's bright butterfly--
The dusking forest pools uplooking lie
Like graveless dead men's staring, sightless eyes.
Ah, eerie, eerie is the lonely wood,
But lo! the faeries light their firefly lamps,
Elusive foxfire flames from marish damps;
Hastes to the morris-dance an elfin brood;
A far bell chimes, the cricket cheerly shrills,
The droning beetle sounds his hoarse bassoon
And hylas trill; eftsoon the rising moon
The ambient air to molten silver thrills.
Then all the lyric night is set to song!
The cuckoo calls, the plaining whippoorwill
Cries faint and far away; more distant still
The hoopoe, hid his marshy haunts among,
Wails with the cry of some lost soul in pain;
The nightingale engilds the pulsant dark
With golden-throated melody--but hark!
The night-jar's discord mars the perfect strain.
The night wears on, black shadows throng apace,
The wood is still, the moon grows wan and old,
White marsh-mists wreathe like clammy arms, death-cold,
And moth-wings like dead fingers sweep my face;
The bittern wailing leaves the sombre pool,
Voicing the world-old pain that never dies;
The owl with ghoulish laughter outward flies
Like some weird Vivien shrieking, "Fool!" and "Fool!"