Cicely Fox Smith
The Horseman In The Night - Poem by Cicely Fox Smith
IN the hedgerow, in the hollow, between the brown hills,
When all with dark and shadows the silent valley fills,
'Tis there that I go trembling when the fields lie white with dew,
And see the lonely horseman that waits there all night through.
All the night long he waits there, in a gap by a broken rail,
Whether by moon or star shine, in the fog or the driving hail:
He bows not his head to the storm-wind, of the rain he takes no heed, -
A shadow against the shadow, dark rider and dark steed.
Why waits he, stark and silent, until the dawn of day? -
Was he slain in a fight forgotten, or hanged by the King's highway,
That without word of challenge, spur-clink or lift of rein,
Lonely he keeps his vigil till daylight comes again?
I went there as the sun rose, and nothing did I see
But a gnarled thorn in the hedgerow where the rider used to be:
I came again at nightfall when the frost in the air was keen,
And lo! the shadowy rider where the twisted thorn had been!
Nightly the spell is worked there, nightly the change comes down
When none is by but the peewit that cries o'er the moor-grass brown:
Sudden, at sound of cock-crow, swiftly, at dawn of day,
Rider and horse from the hedgerow melt like the mists away.
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