The Vampire

- 1865-1914

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.


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.


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.

Waste Land

Briar and fennel and chincapin,
    And rue and ragweed everywhere;
The field seemed sick as a soul with sin,
    Or dead of an old despair,
    Born of an ancient care.

The cricket’s cry and the locust’s whirr,
    And the note of a bird’s distress,
With the rasping sound of the grasshopper,
    Clung to the loneliness
    Like burrs to a trailing dress.

So sad the field, so waste the ground,
     So curst with an old despair,
A woodchuck’s burrow, a blind mole’s mound
     And a chipmunk’s stony lair,
     Seemed more than it could bear.

So lonely, too, so more than sad,
    So droning-lone with bees —
I wondered what more could Nature add
    To the sum of its miseries  .   .   .
    And then—I saw the trees. 

Skeletons gaunt that gnarled the place,
    Twisted and torn they rose—
The tortured bones of a perished race
    Of monsters no mortal knows,
    They started the mind’s repose.

And a man stood there, as still as moss,
    A lichen form that stared;
With an old blind hound that, at a loss,
    Forever around him fared
    With a snarling fang half bared.

I looked at the man; I saw him plain;
    Like a dead weed, gray and wan
Or a breath of dust.   I looked again—
    And man and dog were gone,
    Like wisps of the graying dawn.   .   .   .

Were they a part of the grim death there—
    Ragweed, fennel, and rue?
Or forms of the mind, an old despair,
    That there into semblance grew
    Out of the grief I knew?