The shadow lies upon the western world
And all is quiet, seeking pleasant rest.
The sheep are huddled in their woolly fold,
The mice and birds track down their cosy nests.
So beast and man finds sleep where they find best;
Their bodies sheltered from the rain and cold.
And I asleep, asleep in deepest night,
Dreaming of the stars and pale moonlight
When weary bodies heed their earthly course
Between the setting and the rising sun,
The soul shakes free and leaves the corpse,
And can the pain and toil of daylight shun.
To stalk with wolves, or with the white hart run,
To chase these thoughts even unto their source.
But if it hears the sound of elfin singing,
To you this night shall be forever clinging.
And so it was, at twelve, when clock hands meet,
The lowest hour of reasoning, but height
Of fancy’s wandering; when two realms greet.
To see a fay, it is a perilous sight,
I did become entwined in wondrous plight,
And thus I strayed beyond the fields of wheat.
Chained by their bardic chants. No human song,
Could make me find those paths. And walk along.
I passed through leafy glades and over brooks
Of rippling crystal water, cool to touch.
And beasts I passed would give such longing looks,
As if they thought their kin I was as much.
And so those notes, so melodic, where such
To lead me to a rath. And here there shook
The dewy Earth. A door did open wide.
The music welled up deep from that hillside.
Onwards through passages, along I went,
No nightlife, moonlight, starlight, was there here.
Groping I followed distant sound, till bent
And broken I emerged, I know not near.
The forgotten realm, where few have dared to peer.
And one I saw from whom the sound was sent,
She was the fairest creature, none can tell,
And there, upon a shore, she sung so well.
Upon a rock, beside a gentle sea
I sat and gazed at her, and on those eyes.
Turning she fixed her piercing sight on me,
With ocean blues and greens, to laugh or cry,
Those jewels could summon forth both highs
Of love and grief. With speech both stern and free,
She bade me lay upon that pebbled shore,
And care for mortal sun and warmth no more.
The dooms of me and her are not the same,
And in some different clime, a colder land,
The morning star arose and chill dawn came.
My soul, at peace, was dragged from off the sand
By waking man’s both cruel and living hand
Taken back to the body, broken and lame.
Because I heard the sound of elfin singing
To me that night shall be forever clinging.