Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

(20 April 1826 - 12 October 1887 / Stoke-on-Trent / England)

Moon-Struck - Poem by Dinah Maria Mulock Craik

IT is a moor
Barren and treeless; lying high and bare
Beneath the archèd sky. The rushing winds
Fly over it, each with his strong bow bent
And quiver full of whistling arrows keen.

I am a woman, lonely, old, and poor.
If there be any one who watches me
(But there is none) adown the long blank wold,
My figure painted on the level sky
Would startle him as if it were a ghost,--
And like a ghost, a weary wandering ghost,
I roam and roam, and shiver through the dark
That will not hide me. O but for one hour,
One blessed hour of warm and dewy night,
To wrap me like a pall--with not an eye
In earth or heaven to pierce the black serene.
Night, call yet this? No night; no dark--no rest--
A moon-ray sweeps down sudden from the sky,
And smites the moor--
Is't thou, accursèd Thing,
Broad, pallid, like a great woe looming out--
Out of its long-sealed grave, to fill all earth
With its dead, ghastly smile? Art there again,
Round, perfect, large, as when we buried thee,
I and the kindly clouds that heard my prayers?
I'll sit me down and meet thee face to face,
Mine enemy!--Why didst thou rise upon
My world--my innocent world, to make me mad?
Wherefore shine forth, a tiny tremulous curve
Hung out in the gray sunset beauteously,
To tempt mine eyes--then nightly to increase
Slow orbing, till thy full, blank, pitiless stare
Hunts me across the world?
No rest--no dark.
Hour after hour that passionless bright face
Climbs up the desolate blue. I will press down
The lids on my tired eyeballs--crouch in dust,
And pray.
--Thank God, thank God!--a cloud has hid
My torturer. The night at last is free:
Forth peep in crowds the merry twinkling stars.
Ah, we'll shine out, the little silly stars
And I; we'll dance together across the moor,
They up aloft--I here. At last, at last
We are avengèd of our adversary!

The freshening of the night air feels like dawn.
Who said that I was mad? I will arise,
Throw off my burthen, march across the wold
Airily--Ha! what, stumbling? Nay, no fear--
I am used unto the dark, for many a year
Steering compassionless athwart the waste
To where, deep hid in valleys of white mist,
The pleasant home-lights shine. I will but pause,
Turn round and gaze--
O me! O miserable me!
The cloud-bank overflows: sudden outpour
The bright white moon-rays--ah! I drown, I drown,
And o'er the flood, with steady motion, slow
It walketh--my inexorable Doom.

No more: I shall not struggle any more:
I will lie down as quiet as a child,--
I can but die.

There, I have hid my face:
Stray travellers passing o'er the silent wold
Would only say, 'She sleeps.'
Glare on, my Doom;
I will not look at thee: and if at times
I shiver, still I neither weep nor moan:
Angels may see, I neither weep nor moan.

Was that sharp whistling wind the morning breeze
That calls the stars back to the obscure of heaven?
I am very cold.--And yet there is a change.
Less fiercely the sharp moonbeams smite my brain,
My heart beats slower, duller: soothing rest
Like a soft garment binds my shuddering limbs.--
If I looked up now, should I see it still
Gibbeted ghastly in the hopeless sky?--
No!
It is very strange: all things seem strange:
Pale spectral face, I do not fear thee now:
Was't this mere shadow which did haunt me once
Like an avenging fiend?--Well, we fade out
Together: I'll nor dread nor curse thee more.

How calm the earth seems! and I know the moor
Glistens with dew-stars. I will try and turn
My poor face eastward. Close not, eyes! That light
Fringing the far hills, all so fair--so fair,
Is it not dawn? I am dying, but 't is dawn.

'Upon the mountains I behold the feet
Of my Beloved: let us forth to meet'--
Death.
This is death. I see the light no more;
I sleep.
But like a morning bird my soul
Springs singing upward, into the deeps of heaven
Through world on world to follow Infinite Day.


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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, April 13, 2010



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