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Poem by Eleanor Farjeon

The Story-Teller

Over the hearth on which we burned
Brown beech-nuts, lichen-twigs, and cones,
I sat beside her while she turned
A forkèd wand within the pyre,
Until two little spirts of fire
Sprang from the hazels withered bones.

Then, with her eyes upon her branch
Pointed with ruddy nuts of flame,
Like one who has no power to staunch
The hearts-blood flowing from his side,
She through her mouth undammed a tide
Of legends that I could not name:--

Strange villages where damsels fished
For lovers in a rainbow sea
By night: a crazy man who wished
To act like God, and very soon
Out-freaked the fools that raked the moon:
Gold underneath an apple-tree

Discovered by a thrice-dreamed dream:
Half-tales, half-ballads--until the room
Shook in its shadows with a stream
Of pedlars, witches, cats in crowns,
Denizens of enchanted towns,
And kings confined in forests of gloom.

Her voice went up and down like wind
That wanders lost among the eaves;
The flamelets on her hazel thinned
And dwindled into smouldering eyes;
Her voice failed like the wind that dies,
She threw a handful of black leaves

On the bright litter of the hearth
And thrust her hazels double spark
Within. The smell of smoking earth
Rose from the stones where ceased to burn
The fiery lines of cone and fern
And berry: the room was dumb and dark.

Eleanor Farjeon

Eleanor Farjeon's other poems:
  1. When You Say
  2. Sonnets. 11. A few of us who faltered as we fared
  3. Sonnets. 14. Now I have love again and life again
  4. Three Miles to Penn
  5. Revolt

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