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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

Indian Pipe

By Elaine Goodale Eastman (1863–1953)

DEATH in the wood,—

Death, and a scent of decay;

Death, and a horror that creeps with the blood,

And stiffens the limbs to clay;

For the rains are heavy and slow,

And the leaves are shrunken and wan,

And the winds are sobbing weary and low,

And the life of the year is gone.

Death in the wood,—

Death in its fold over fold,

Death,—that I shuddered and sank where I stood,

At the touch of a hand so cold,—

At the touch of a hand so cold,

And the sight of a clay-white face.

For I saw the corse of the friend I loved,

And a hush fell over the place.

Death in the wood,—

Death, and a scent of decay,

Death, and a horror but half understood,

Where blank as the dead I lay;

What curse hung over the earth,

What woe to the tribes of men,

That we felt as a death what was made for a birth,—

And a birth sinking deathward again!

Death in the wood,—

In the death-pale lips apart;

Death in a whiteness that curdled the blood,

Now black to the very heart:

The wonder by her was formed

Who stands supreme in power;

To show that life by the spirit comes

She gave us a soulless flower!