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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

A Witch Song

By Willis Gaylord Clark (1808–1841)

[Born in Otisco, N. Y. Died in Philadelphia, Penn., 1841. Literary Remains. Edited by Lewis Gaylord Clark. 1844.]

’TIS a haunted place where thou art now,

And when the west hath lost the sun,

And silvery moon-beams waver slow

Where here the chasing billows run;

When fairy mists like spirits throng

About this undulating tide,

Then sweep the witches’ trains along,

And charm the air whereon they ride.

And, as between the waning moon

And Brocken’s height their forms are seen,

While midnight’s melancholy noon

Extends its thoughtful reign serene,

Their rustling folds are heard above,

The branches groan in every tree;

Till on the lake these spectres move,

And sing this song of the Hexen Zee:

Our boat is strong, its oars are good,

Of charnel bones its ribs are made;

From coffins old we carved the wood

Beneath the gloomy cypress shade;

An ignis-fatuus lights the prow,—

It is a felon’s blood-shot e’e,

And it shineth forth from his skeleton brow

To light our way o’er the Hexen Zee.

There’s a scream of dreaming birds afar,

And a hollow blast in the old Hartz wood:

Our course was marked by the evening star,

By the wakeful eagle’s glance pursued;

The tree-toad moaned on the mossy limb

And plunged in the pool ’neath the dark yew-tree,

But what care we for the likes of him,

While we sing and sail on the Hexen Zee?

We have come over forest, and glen, and moor,

We have ivy leaves from the castle wall;

We roved by the huts of the sleeping poor,

And we heard their faithful watch-dogs call;

Over cities and hamlets in haste we swept—

Over gardens and turrets—o’er hill and lea;

Our race now pauseth, our pledge we have kept,

And together we sail on the Hexen Zee.

There’s a vapor of gray, and a crimson hue,

In the wake of our bark as we haste along;

The sails are clothed in a flame of blue,

And our voices are hoarse with this elfin song:

The finny tribes, as they cross our wake,

A-floating in lifeless throngs we see;

To Hecate an offering thus we make,

Who is fond of fish from the Hexen Zee.

Look to the east! there the dawn is red,

Through the cedar branches it ’gins to glow;

Our song must be ended—our spell is dead,

Away to our cloudy homes we go:

The charm is finished; the distant chime

Of bells are echoing one—two—three;

We will mount the blast——and depart in time,

Afar from the haunted Hexen Zee.