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.

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