And looking up at night it seemed the trees
Held in profusion shimmering silver fruit
Which, climbing up, some child could pluck with ease
And by handfuls twinkling on the black ground strew it.
Cold flaming silver birches then might grow,
And glow like candles lit by tenebrous monks,
And light the lost who stumble as they go
All lantern-less among dark leaves and trunks.
If wicked worm bore thee away
Unto his forlorn island lair,
I’d search the world until the day
My telescope should find thee there.
I’d sail out to that sulph’rous place,
Borne on a merry-tempered breeze
And while the dragon slept a space,
I’d steal my girl with thievish ease.
And if he rage on being reft
Of thee, the fairest maid who breathes,
And he repay my cunning theft,
Smashing our ship out on the seas,
I’d take my needle and my thread
And stitch the ship up plank by plank
And with my musket shoot him dead,
And sing a love song as he sank.
How, you ask, can I now prove
That all my boasting claims be true?
That I’d perform these feats of love
In counterfactuals, for you?
See how upon this stormy night
Up to the corner store I speed,
So thou mayst rest in warmth and light
Till I bring back the thing we need.
Look and see how now I toil,
Braving the kitchen fires for thee;
I put the kettle on to boil
And bring thee out a cup of tea!
Illustration by Arthur Rackham
This is based on an old story. I read it a long time ago in a reference book at Portland’s Central Library. The Kalapooias are an Oregon Indian tribe.
Four months upon the trail their soles had killed;
Miss Maryanna’s shoes were all worn out.
As autumn fell her family raced to build
An Oregon home. And no one thought about
How Maryanna barefoot looked quite wild,
Except for Maryanna, I should say.
At fourteen years she knew she was no child –
And wished that she had shoes most every day.
Some Kalapooias sometimes came to call –
She’d crouch beside the stove to hide her feet –
But Robert Westwood was the worst of all,
She never knew when they might chance to meet.
He was a settler, living near their land,
Who walked the trails that she liked best to walk,
And gladly gave her pa a helping hand,
But rarely showed that he knew how to talk.
He didn’t say much, but he at least could see
How any time that he and she would meet
Miss Maryanna fast from him would flee,
And at the same time try to hide her feet.
One rainy day upon the path they met
But he had made a plan to stop her flight,
He’d thought about it so he wouldn’t forget
The words to say to set the matter right.
“Hey, Maryanna! let me see your foot.”
The tears welled up – Who was this awful man?
Could any be as cruel as he? she thought
She stamped in anger and away she ran.
Beneath the Alder tree where she had stood,
Between the leaves he saw her footprint laid.
He bent down low to measure in the mud
The mark that angry Maryanna made.
The day the snow first fell upon the firs,
He laid two doe-skin shoes down at her door.
They fit! And so she knew that they were hers,
And she would be the barefoot girl no more.
You made it simple – suddenly simple for me
So long caught up in love’s philosophy,
Like some character in Dostoevsky.
For you I could be a prince, handsome and tall.
And you with glittering gown, the beauty of the ball,
Adorned with jewels fair and brighter than them all.
Once upon a time there was a king whose castle was filled with magic mirrors (gifts of a wizard). Each one of the mirrors could show anyone who looked into it things strange and wonderful from all over the whole wide world.
Sadly, whenever anyone in the royal family spoke to anyone else in the royal family, he had to repeat everything he had JUST SAID because the one he had been speaking to was too entranced by a magic mirror to hear him the first time.