The Watch in the Wood

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The Watch in the Wood
written by John Masefield
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When Death has laid her in his quietude,
And dimmed the glow of her benignant star,
Her tired limbs shall rest within a wood,
In a green glade where oaks and beeches are,

Where the shy fawns, the pretty fawns, the deer,
With mild brown eyes shall view her spirit’s husk;
The sleeping woman of her will appear,
The maiden Dian shining through the dusk.

And, when the stars are white as twilight fails,
And the green leaves are hushed, and the winds swoon,
The calm pure thrilling throats of nightingales
Shall hymn her sleeping beauty to the moon.

All the woods hushed – save for a dripping rose,
All the woods dim – save where a glow-worm glows.

Brimming the quiet woods with holiness,
The lone brown birds will hymn her till the dawn,
The delicate, shy, dappled deer will press
Soft pitying muzzles on her swathèd lawn.

The little pretty rabbits running by,
Will pause among the dewy grass to peep,
Their thudding hearts affrightened to espy
The maiden Dian lying there asleep.

Brown, lustrous, placid eyes of sylvan things
Will wonder at the quiet in her face,
While from the thorny branch the singer brings
Beauty and peace to that immortal place.

Until the grey dawn sets the woods astir
The pure birds’ thrilling psalm will mourn for her.

Coram St.


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