Verse > Anthologies > Walter Murdoch, comp. > The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse
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Walter Murdoch (1874–1970).  The Oxford Book of Australasian Verse.  1918.
 
101. Mid-Forest Fear
 
By Roderic Quinn
 
 
SHE is standing at the gate,
  Tall and sweet,
And although the hour be late
  She will greet
    Me, her lover,        5
    Smiling over
Absent mind and tardy feet.
 
‘Rest,’ I’ll say to her, ‘and more rest,’
  As she wraps her love around me,
And I’ll tell her of the forest,        10
Of the strange, fear-haunted forest
  Where the fleshless beings found me.
 
For I trod a rock-strewn rude way
  Thinking only of my lover,
When the moonlight on the woodway,        15
Made a weird-way of the woodway,
  And a place where demons hover.
 
For the leaves that had been sleeping
  On the sodden soil-bed lying,
Took a motion and ’gan creeping,        20
Like a thousand small feet creeping,
  And there rose a distant sighing.
 
Why the trees did droop their tresses,
  Weeping leaves for something under,
And what bode in dim recesses,        25
Feline-lurked in dim recesses,
  Paled my cheeks and heart to ponder.
 
Had I feet I would have hurried,
  But the moonlit forest chained me,
Soul and body grasped and worried,        30
With frost-fingers gripped and worried,
  Till, half-stayed, my hurt heart pained me.…
 
‘Rest,’ I’ll say, ‘my Love, and more rest;
  Things unseen have life and motion
And they haunt the moonlit forest—        35
Soul-affronting haunt the forest,
  And men meet them on the ocean.’
 
She will look so grave and kind,
  Saying ‘Rest—
Rest is here for heart and mind        40
  On this breast—
    Put aside all
    Fancies idle,
I will shield you—Love is best.’
 

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