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Poem by George Henry Borrow


The Elder-Witch


According to the Danish tradition, there is a female Elf in
the elder tree, which she leaves every midnight; and, having
strolled among the fields, returns to it before morning.

Though tall the oak, and firm its stem,
Though far abroad its boughs are spread,
Though high the poplar lifts its head,
I have no song for them.
A theme more bright, more bright would be
The winsome, winsome elder tree,
Beneath whose shade I sit reclin'd;-
It holds a witch within its bark,
A lovely witch who haunts the dark,
And fills with love my mind.

When ghosts, at midnight, leave their graves,
And rous'd is every phantom thing;
When mermaids rise and sweetly sing
In concert with the waves;
When Palnatoka, on his steed,
Pursues the elves across the mead,
Or gallops, gallops o'er the sea,
The witch within the elder's bark,
The lovely witch who haunts the dark,
Comes out, comes out to me.

Of leaves the fairies make our bed;
The knight, who moulders 'neath the elm,
Starts up with spear and rusted helm,-
By him the grace is said;
And though her kiss is cold at times,
And does not scent of earthly climes,
Though glaring is her eye, yet still
The witch within the elder's bark,
The lovely witch who haunts the dark,
I prize, and ever will.

Yet, once I lov'd a mortal maid,
And gaz'd, enraptur'd, on her charms,
Oft circled in each other's arms,
Together, here we stray'd;-
But, soon, she found a fairer youth,
And I a fairer maid, forsooth!
And one more true, more true to me,
The witch within the elder's bark,
The lovely witch who haunts the dark,
Has been more true to me.



George Henry Borrow


George Henry Borrow's other poems:
  1. The Old Oak
  2. Glee
  3. Waldemar's Chase
  4. Miscellanies
  5. Sadness


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