The Marsh


A darksome stillness broods o’er all,
The breeze is dank and chill,
And there beneath a covering pall
Its moonless waters still
The marsh lies hidden from the sight
To snare the traveller in the night.

A faint grey slime is round the edge
Of heaving oozing mud;
And trees half buried in the sedge
Are sour with rotting wood.
Against the sombre sky they loom,
Great monsters that have met their doom.

But underneath where human eyes
Cannot their outline see
A treasure-hoard of ages lies
In timeless mystery.
If one it hidden lore divined,
What should he find? What should he find?

Yet I for one would not accept
The offer thus to peer;
The marsh has secrets better kept
Away from moan and tear;
Ah, many a hope is drowned in thee,
Thou silent grave of misery.

And many a hope of mine lie there
I’ll never know again;
And many a secret load of care
I’ve buried with its pain;
And things that made a loved one cry –
Oh, let them lie! Oh, let them lie!

And yet a fascination grips
My senses in this place,
And I could fancy ghostly lips
Soft brush against my face;
And voices float upon the air,
And mocking laughter echoes there.

The lover keeps the secret tryst,
The slayer meets the slain
And deals the blow; the night winds wist
His spirit’s fettering chain.
The marsh may hide but cannot kill
The memories that haunt me still!

November, 1926