WHERE to-night the woodside towers,
Visited by unseen powers,
While from hollows of the sky
All the winds come rustling by,
Gramarye weaves within her loom
Emerald and moonlight bloom.
Fallen from every topmost height
There black shadows cut the light
Sharp as swords cut, and in crowds
Slighter shadows, thin as clouds,
Only touched with jewel-dust,
In among the great glooms thrust.
Green and silver, light as snow,
Sprays and stems their shadows throw;
Little shadows of the leaf,
Where the ray falls bright and brief,
Wavering, shimmering, swarm and slip,
In the startled splendor dip,
Where, from wells and floods unbound
Glory pours along the ground.
Through the glimmer, please you, look —
Half you guess a flickering brook,
Now a surf of twinkling spray
Breaks across a hidden way,
Petals of some wondrous flower
Drift a sudden slanting shower,
Now a bough all washed with light
Stirs its leaves in one long flight,
And lingeringly unveils the view
Down some alluring avenue,
Whose fountains toss a furtive mist
Athwart a deeper place of tryst,
With labyrinth of leafy walls,
With hint of air-drawn palace-halls,
And mystery of opening lines
Where the glamouring moonlight shines.
What weird land of deathless dreams
Lies beyond these moonlit gleams,
What domain of strange delight
On the borders of the night!
Could we enter, might we find,
As the subtle ways we wind,
Love once lost, and heart’s desire,
Hopes whose feet were shod with fire,
Haunting presences, and things
That waft us on enchanted wings ?
Hasten — Fate was made to try!
Cross the moonglade, you and I !
Lift the branch, give me your hand —
No, no ! It is Forbidden Land !
Harriet Prescott Spofford.