by Madison Cawein


This is the tale they tell,
Of an Hallowe’en;
This is the thing that befell
Me and the village Belle,
Beautiful Aimee Dean.


Did I love her?—God and she,
They know and I!
And love was the life of me—
Whatever else may be,
Would God that I could die!


That All-Saints’ eve was dim;
The forest lay white
Under strange stars and a slim
Moon in the graveyeard grim,
An Autumn ghost of light.


They told her: “Go alone,
With never a word,
To the burial plot’s unknown
Grave with the grayest stone,
When the clock on twelve is heard;


“Three times around it pass,
With never a sound;
Each time a wisp of grass
And myrtle pluck, and pass
Out of the ghostly ground.


“And the bridegroom that’s to be
At smiling wait,
With a face like mist to see,
With graceful gallantry
Will bow you to the gate.”


She laughed at this, and so
Bespoke us how
To burial place she’d go:—
And I was gald to know,
For I’d be there to bow.


An acre from the farm
The homestead graves
Lay walled from sun and storm;
Old cedars of priestly form
Around like sentinel slaves.


I loved, but never could say
Such words to her,
And waited from day to day,
Nursing the hope that lay
Under the doubts that were.—


She passed ‘neath the iron arch
Of the legended ground,
And the moon like a twisted torch
Burned over one lonesome larch;
She passed with never a sound.


Three times had the circle traced,
Three times had bent
To the grave that the myrtle graced;
Three times, then softly faced
Homeward, and slowly went.


Had the moonlight changed me so?
Or fear undone
Her stepping strange and slow?
Did she see and did not know?
Or loved she another one?


Who knows?—She turned to flee
With a face so white
That it haunts and will haunt me;
The wind blew gustily,
The graveyard gate clanged tight.


Did she think it me or—what,
Clutching her dress?
Her face so pinched that not
A star in a stormy spot
Shows half as much distress.


Did I speak? did she answer aught?
O God! had I said
“Aimee, ‘t is I!” but naught!—
And the mist and the moon distraught
Stared with me on her—dead….


This is the tale they tell
Of the Hallowe’en;
This is the thing that befell
Me and the village Belle,
Beautiful Aimee Dean.

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