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The Collected Poems of Dora Sigerson Shorter/The One Forgotten


A spirit speeding down on All Souls' Eve
From the wide gates of that mysterious shore
Where sleep the dead, sung softly and yet sweet
“So gay a wind was never heard before,”
The old man said, and listened by the fire;
And, “'Tis the souls that pass us on their way,”
The young maids whispered, clinging side by side.
So left their glowing nuts awhile to pray.

Still the pale spirit, singing through the night.
Came to this window, looking from the dark
Into the room; then passing to the door,
Where crouched the whining dog, afraid to bark,
Tapped gently without answer, pressed the latch.
Pushed softly open, and then tapped once more.
The maidens cried, when seeking for the ring,
“How strange a wind is blowing on the door!”

And said the old man, crouching to the fire:
“Draw close your chairs, for colder falls the night;
Push fast the door, and pull the curtains to,
For it is dreary in the moon's pale light”
And then his daughter's daughter with her hand
Passed over salt and clay to touch the ring,
Said low, “The old need fire, but ah! the young
Have that within their heart to flame and sting.”

And then the spirit, moving from her place,
Touched there a shoulder, whispered m each ear,
Bent by the old man, nodding in his chair,
But no one heeded her, or seemed to hear.
Then crew the black cock, and so weeping sore
She went alone into the night again,
And said the greybeard, reaching for his glass,
“How sad a wind blows on the window-pane!”

And then from dreaming the long dreams of age
He woke, remembering, and let fall a tear:
“Alas! I have forgot—and have you gone?—
I set no chair to welcome you, my dear.”
And said the maidens, laughing in their play,
“How he goes groaning, wrinkled-faced and hoar,
He is so old, and angry with his age—
Hush I hear the banshee sobbing past the door.”