It was down in the woodland on last Hallowe'en,
   Where silence and darkness had built them a lair,
That I felt the dim presence of her, the unseen,
   And heard her still step on the hush-haunted air.
 
It was last Hallowe'en in the glimmer and swoon
   Of mist and of moonlight, where once we had sinned,
That I saw the gray gleam of her eyes in the moon,
   And hair, like a raven, blown wild on the wind.
 
It was last Hallowe'en where starlight and dew
   Made mystical marriage on flower and leaf,
That she led me with looks of a love, that I knew
   Was dead, and the voice of a passion too brief.
 
It was last Hallowe'en in the forest of dreams,
   Where trees are eidolons and flowers have eyes,
That I saw her pale face like the foam of far streams,
   And heard, like the night-wind, her tears and her sighs.
 
It was last Hallowe'en, the haunted, the dread,
   In the wind-tattered wood, by the storm-twisted pine,
That I, who am living, kept tryst with the dead,
   And clasped her a moment who once had been mine.
 

More by Madison Julius Cawein

The Vampire

A lily in a twilight place?
A moonflow'r in the lonely night?—
Strange beauty of a woman's face
   Of wildflow'r-white!

The rain that hangs a star's green ray
Slim on a leaf-point's restlessness,
Is not so glimmering green and gray
   As was her dress.

I drew her dark hair from her eyes,
And in their deeps beheld a while
Such shadowy moonlight as the skies
   Of Hell may smile.

She held her mouth up redly wan,
And burning cold,—I bent and kissed
Such rosy snow as some wild dawn
   Makes of a mist.

God shall not take from me that hour,
When round my neck her white arms clung!
When 'neath my lips, like some fierce flower,
   Her white throat swung!

Or words she murmured while she leaned!
Witch-words, she holds me softly by,—
The spell that binds me to a fiend
   Until I die.

Hallowmas

All hushed of glee,
The last chill bee
Clings wearily
   To the dying aster:
   The leaves drop faster:
   And all around, red as disaster,
The forest crimsons with tree on tree.
 
A butterfly,
The last to die,
Droops heavily by,
   Weighed down with torpor:
   The air grows sharper:
   And the wind in the trees, like some sad harper,
Sits and sorrows with sigh on sigh.
 
The far crows call;
The acorns fall;
And over all
   The Autumn raises
   Dun mists and hazes,
   Through which her soul, it seemeth, gazes
On ghosts and dreams in carnival.
 
The end is near:
The dying Year
Leans low to hear
   Her own heart breaking,
   And Beauty taking
   Her flight, and all her dreams forsaking
Her soul, bowed down 'mid the sad and sere.
 

Related Poems

On Halloween

Some folk in courts for pleasure sue,
	An' some ransack the theatre:
The airy nymph is won by few;
    She's of so coy a nature.
She shuns the great bedaub'd with lace,
    Intent on rural jokin
An' spite o' breeding, deigns to grace
    A merry Airshire rockin,
			Sometimes at night.

At Halloween, when fairy sprites
    Perform their mystic gambols,
When ilka witch her neebour greets,
    On their nocturnal rambles;
When elves at midnight-hour are seen,
    Near hollow caverns sportin,
Then lads an' lasses aft convene,
    In hopes to ken their fortune,
			By freets that night.

At Jennet Reid's not long ago,
    Was held an annual meeting,
Of lasses fair an' fine also,
    With charms the most inviting:
Though it was wat, an' wondrous mirk,
    It stopp'd nae kind intention;
Some sprightly youths, frae Loudon-kirk,
    Did haste to the convention,
			Wi' glee that night.

The nuts upon a clean hearthstane,
    Were plac'd by ane anither,
An' some gat lads, an' some gat nane,
    Just as they bleez'd the gither.
Some sullen cooffs refuse to burn;
    Bad luck can ne'er be mended;
But or they a' had got a turn,
    The pokeful nits was ended
			Owre soon that night.

A candle on a stick was hung,
    An' ti'd up to the kipple:
Ilk lad an' lass, baith auld an' young,
    Did try to catch the apple;
Which aft, in spite o' a' their care,
     Their furious jaws escaped;
They touch'd it ay, but did nae mair,
     Though greedily they gaped,
			Fu' wide that night.

The dishes then, by joint advice,
     Were plac'd upon the floor;
Some stammer'd on the toom ane thrice,
     In that unlucky hour.
Poor Mall maun to the garret go,
     Nae rays o' comfort meeting;
Because sae aft she's answered no,
     She'll spend her days in greeting,
			An' ilka night.

Poor James sat trembling for his fate;
     He lang had dree'd the worst o't;
Though they had tugg'd and rugg'd till yet,
     To touch the dish he durst not.
The empty bowl, before his eyes,
     Replete with ills appeared;
No man nor maid could make him rise,
     The consequence he feared
			Sae much that night.

Wi' heartsome glee the minutes past,
     Each act to mirth conspired:
The cushion game perform'd at last,
     Was most of all admired.
From Janet's bed a bolster came,
     Nor lad nor lass was missing;
But ilka ane wha caught the same,
     Was pleas'd wil routh o' kissing,
			Fu' sweet that night.

Soon as they heard the forward clock
      Proclaim 'twas nine, they started,
An' ilka lass took up her rock;
      Reluctantly they parted,
In hopes to meet some other time,
      Exempt from false aspersion;
Nor will they count it any crime,
      To hae sic like diversion
			Some future night.