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Poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter


All-Souls' Night


O MOTHER, mother, I swept the hearth, I set his chair and the white board spread,
I prayed for his coming to our kindly Lady when Death's doors would let out the dead;
A strange wind rattled the window-pane, and down the lane a dog howled on,
I called his name and the candle flame burnt dim, pressed a hand the door-latch upon.
Deelish! Deelish! my woe forever that I could not sever coward flesh from fear.
I called his name and the pale ghost came; but I was afraid to meet my dear.

O mother, mother, in tears I checked the sad hours past of the year that's o'er,
Till by God's grace I might see his face and hear the sound of his voice once more;
The chair I set from the cold and wet, he took when he came from unknown skies
Of the land of the dead, on my bent brown head I felt the reproach of his saddened eyes;
I closed my lids on my heart's desire, crouched by the fire, my voice was dumb.
At my clean-swept hearth he had no mirth, and at my table he broke no crumb.
Deelish! Deelish! my woe forever that I could not sever coward flesh from fear.
His chair put aside when the young cock cried, and I was afraid to meet my dear.



Dora Sigerson Shorter


Dora Sigerson Shorter's other poems:
  1. The Kine of My Father
  2. An Imperfect Revolution
  3. You Will Not Come Again
  4. Sixteen Dead Men
  5. The Fairy Changeling

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