by Orville Henry Leonard

I know that across those mountains
Lies a country about like this,
And I know that poisoned fountains
Fringe the way, and the rattlers' hiss
Is sibilant on that blistering trail,
    And the sand is like the sea,
But the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert
    Is a-beckoning to me.

I know that others both skilled and bold
Have taken this trail before,
Hunting long for the yellow gold,
Only to come back worn and sore —
That is, if they ever came back at all —
    And though all this I know,
When the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert calls
    I pack my jack and go.

The cactus grows and flaunts its rose
Beside the trail my burro takes.
The hot day comes, the hot day goes,
Desert night wind the whole world shakes.
Then a dancing light in the velvet dark
    Afar on the waste I see,
And I know that the desert Will-o'-the-Wisp
    Is flashing his light at me.

His elfin light is of fancy made.
Yet he jeers at me like a clown
By flashing scenes of liquid shade
On the noon sky, but upside down,
For he carries slides with his lantern by day
    To tease me maliciously.
Though I know he's the Will-o'-the-Wisp, yet I swear
    That he's holding a cup to me.

He has no form, he has no face,
He has only a dancing light
To lure me on from place to place —
To every place but the right.
Though I stumble and faint and burn with thirst,
    I follow hopefully,
For the Will-o'-the-Wisp of the desert
    Is waving his light to me.


by Louisa Humphreys

Canice the priest went out on the Night of Souls;
    "Stay, oh stay," said the woman who served his board
"Stay, for the path is strait with pits and holes,
    And the night is dark and the way is lone abroad;
Stay within because it is lone, at least."
"Nay, it will not be lone," said Canice the priest.

Dim without, and a dim, low-sweeping sky;
    A scent of earth in the night, of opened mould;
A listening pause in the night—and a breath passed by—
    And its touch was cold, was cold as the graves are cold
Canice went on to the waste where no men be;
"Nay, I will not be lone to-night," said he.

Shades that flit, besides the shades of the night;
    Rustling sobs besides the sobs of the wind;
Steps of feet that pace with his on the right,
    Steps that pace on the left, and steps behind.
"Nay, no fear that I shall be lone, at least!
Lo, there are throngs abroad," said Canice the priest.

Deathly hands that pluck at his cassock's hem;
    Sighings of earthly breath that smite his cheek;
Canice the priest swings on, atune with them,
    Hears the throbbings of pain, and hears them speak;
Hears the word they utter, and answers "Yea!
Yea, poor souls, for I heed; I pray, I pray."

Lo, a gleam of gray, and the dark is done;
    Hark, a bird that trills a song of the light.
Canice hies him home by the shine of the sun.
    What to-day of those pallid wraiths of the night?
What of the woeful notes that had wailed and fled?
"Maria, ora pro illis!" Canice said.
by Pamela Grey

One day when Father and I had been
To sell our sheep at Berwick Green
We reached the farm house late at night
A great moon rising round and bright.

Her strange beam shed on all around
Bewitched the trees and streams and ground.
Changing the willows beyond the stacks
To little old men with crouching backs.

To-day the sun was shining plain
They all were pollarded willows again.
But at night—do you believe they're trees ?
They're little old men with twisted knees.