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Poem by Madison Julius Cawein

The Eve of All-Saints


This is the tale they tell,
 Of an Hallowe'en;
This is the thing that befell
Me and the village Belle,
 Beautiful Aimee Dean.


Did I love her? God and she,
 They know and I!
And love was the life of me
Whatever else may be,
 Would God that I could die!


That All-Saints' eve was dim;
 The frost lay white
Under strange stars and a slim
Moon in the graveyard grim,
 An Autumn ghost of light.


They told her: "Go alone,
 With never a word,
To the burial plot's unknown
Grave with the grayest stone,
 When the clock on twelve is heard;


"Three times around it pass,
 With never a sound;
Each time a wisp of grass
And myrtle pluck, and pass
 Out of the ghostly ground;


"And the bridegroom that's to be
 At smiling wait,
With a face like mist to see,
With graceful gallantry
 Will bow you to the gate."


She laughed at this, and so
 Bespoke us how
To the burial place she'd go:
And I was glad to know,
 For I'd be there to bow.


An acre from the farm
 The homestead graves
Lay walled from sun and storm;
Old cedars of priestly form
 Around like sentinel slaves.


I loved, but never could say
 Such words to her,
And waited from day to day,
Nursing the hope that lay
 Under the doubts that were.


She passed 'neath the iron arch
 Of the legended ground,
And the moon like a twisted torch
Burned over one lonesome larch;
 She passed with never a sound.


Three times had the circle traced,
 Three times had bent
To the grave that the myrtle graced;
Three times, then softly faced
 Homeward, and slowly went.


Had the moonlight changed me so?
 Or fear undone
Her stepping strange and slow?
Did she see and did not know?
 Or loved she another one?


Who knows? She turned to flee
 With a face so white
That it haunts and will haunt me;
The wind blew gustily,
 The graveyard gate clanged tight.


Did she think it me or, what,
 Clutching her dress?
Her face so pinched that not
A star in a stormy spot
 Shows half as much distress.


Did I speak? did she answer aught?
 O God! had I said
"Aimee, 't is I!" but naught!
And the mist and the moon distraught
 Stared with me on her, dead....


This is the tale they tell
 Of the Hallowe'en;
This is the thing that befell
Me and the village Belle,
 Beautiful Aimee Dean.

Madison Julius Cawein

Madison Julius Cawein's other poems:
  1. The Dance of Summer
  2. Night and Rain
  3. The Rendezvous
  4. Elfin
  5. Processional

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