The white moth-mullein brushed its slim
Cool, faery flowers against his knee;
In places where the way lay dim
The branches, arching suddenly,
Made tomblike mystery for him.
The wild-rose and the elder, drenched
With rain, made pale a misty place,
From which, as from a ghost, he blenched;
He walking with averted face,
And lips in desolation clenched.
For far within the forest,where
Weird shadows stood like phantom men,
And where the ground-hog dug its lair,
The she-fox whelped and had her den,
The thing kept calling, buried there.
One dead trunk, like a ruined tower,
Dark-green with toppling trailers, shoved
Its wild wreck o'er the bush; one bower
Looked like a dead man, capped and gloved,
The one who haunted him each hour.
Now at his side he heard it: thin
As echoes of a thought that speaks
To conscience. Listening with his chin
Upon his palm, against his cheeks
He felt the moon's white finger win.
And now the voice was still: and lo,
With eyes that stared on naught but night,
He saw?what none on earth shall know!
Was it the face that far from sight
Had lain here, buried long ago?
But men who found him,thither led
By the wild fox,within that place
Read in his stony eyes, 'tis said,
The thing he saw there, face to face,
The thing that left him staring dead.