When morning stands above the purple hills,1
Heavy with sleep, half-hearted for her work,2
The mist cloud gathers till the darkness fills,3
The sun shines fitfully across the murk,4
And then the south wind gently breathes her way5
Across the mountains letting out the day.6
When evening falls, the mist-wraiths come and go7
Across the silence with their pale grey feet,8
They clamber up the hills, as if to know9
The hidden secrets there, that are so sweet10
No mortal learns them save when death’s thin hand11
Leads them away into that quiet land.12
I think the mists take form as night comes by,13
Walking with sleep, across the suffering land,14
And souls inhabit those weird wraiths that fly15
In graceful wreaths, like spirits hand in hand,16
Aye bodiless, yet have they shape and form,17
Their life is now a calm that ne’er knows storm.18
Or are they fancies breathed by weary men19
Who have not strength to clothe their thoughts
with words,
Or unsung songs that shall be chanted then21
By those who’d be as vocal as God’s birds,22
Yet cannot sing ; for earth holds firm and fast !23
No songs are strong until that hold is cast.24
No ; I feel sure those wraiths are long dead souls,25
Who visit thus the earth they loved so well,26
Who step across the wan white stream that rolls27
Between the dead and living like a spell,28
Gliding as evening falls, with shrouded face,29
And damp cold garments, o’er the sleeping place.30
Oh ! weary spirits, when I feel ye pass,31
Your clammy fingers seem to touch my eyes32
That fain would see life as it is ; alas !33
You stretch between me and the summer skies ;34
Ghosts of the past—the present ne’er can be35
Pure and unscathed while thus you’re haunting me !36