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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

The Willis

By David Law Proudfit (1842–1897)

[Born in Newburgh, N. Y., 1842. Died in New York, N. Y., 1897. Mask and Domino. 1883.]

THE WILLIS are out to night,

In the ghostly pale moonlight,

With robes and faces white.

Swiftly they circle round,

And make not any sound,

Nor footprint on the ground.

The forest is asleep;

All things that fly or creep

A death-like silence keep.

A fear is over all;

From spectral trees and tall

The gathering night-dews fall.

Moveless are leaf and limb,

While through the forest dim

Slow glides a figure slim.

A figure slim and fair,

With loosened, streaming hair,

Watching the Willis there!

“These are the ghosts,” she said,

“Of hapless ones unwed,

Who loved and now are dead.”

Her hair was drenched with dew;

The moonlight shimmered through

And showed its raven hue.

“Each one of these,” she cried,

“Or ever she was a bride,

For love’s sake sinned and died.”

“I come,” she said, “I too;

Ye are by one too few,”

And joined the phantom crew.

Swiftly they circled round,

Nor was there any sound,

Nor footprint on the ground.