Orion, and Other Poems

by Charles G.D. Roberts




SHE rose in the night and fled;
    Such a night there was never another.
And her small hands shewed they red?
    What need! It is cleanly to smother.
In warm arms sleeps the young wife,                                                 
And he fondles her,—"Love! my life!"—
Ha! ha! but the child lies dead—
   Sweet dreams to you, father and mother!

Her hair streams out on the wind,
    The tree-tops wail and mutter,                                                    
The dry leaves patter behind,
    And before the gray bats flutter;
Three crows are hastening after,—
But whence is that flying laughter?
She knows not, following blind,                                                      
    Nor heeds what the voices utter.

Down the long, moon-lighted glades
    Where the pale ghosts moan and shiver,
Through writhen, poisonous shades
    Where the night-shades heavily quiver;                                        
Where the reeking hollows are mute
She treads down the toad and the newt,
And thro’ hemlock, sweet when love fades,
    She hastens, and rests not ever.

Shun yon thicket of grass!—                                                           
    A body lies there forgotten.
Strange it should come to pass
    Before the body is rotten.
They have crushed his head with a stone—
"Ha! ha!  I am not alone."                                                               
And she flies; while up the morass
    Roll the night-mists swamp-begotten.

Her light feet scale the crags
    Where the wild-goat scarce could follow,
And never her swift flight flags                                                        
    Till she reaches a yawn-mouthed hollow
Where a goodly company feast—
Of man, and devil, and beast,
And by torch-light revel the hags,
    And the beasts they grovel and wallow.                                      
She comes among them by night,
    Her long hair over her falling,
Her white feet torn in her flight,
    And they gather around her brawling.
They shriek, they applaud, they groan,—                                        
"Lady, we welcome our own.
Come and feast, thou hast won the right,—
    To wake him will need much calling."