The Will-o’-the-Wisp by by Madison Julius Cawein

I.
There in the calamus he stands
With frog-webbed feet and bat-winged hands;
His glow-worm garb glints goblin-wise;
And elfishly, and elfishly,
Above the gleam of owlet eyes,
A death’s-moth cap of downy dyes
Nods out at me, nods out at me.

II.
Now in the reeds his face looks white
As witch-down on a witches’ night;
Now through the dark old haunted mill,
So eerily, so eerily,
He flits; and with a whippoorwill
Mouth calls, and seems to syllable,
“Come follow me! come follow me!”

III.
Now o’er the sluggish stream he wends,
A slim light at his finger-ends;
The spotted spawn, the toad hath clomb,
Slips oozily, slips oozily;
His easy footsteps seem to come—
Like bubble-gaspings of the scum—
Now near to me, now near to me.

IV.
There by the stagnant pool he stands,
A fox-fire lamp in flickering hands;
The weeds are slimy to the tread,
And mockingly, and mockingly,
With slanted eyes and eldritch head
He leans above a face long dead,—
The face of me! the face of me!

From: Cawein, Madison, Undertones, 1896, Copeland and Day: Boston, pp. 57-58.
(http://www.gutenberg.org/files/31913/31913-h/31913-h.htm)

Date: 1896

By: Madison Julius Cawein (1865-1914)

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