The Moth-Signal

(On Egdon Heath)


'What are you still, still thinking,
  He asked in vague surmise,
'That you stare at the wick unblinking
  With those great lost luminous eyes?'

'O, I see a poor moth burning
  In the candle-flame,' said she,
'Its wings and legs are turning
  To a cinder rapidly.'

'Moths fly in from the heather,'
  He said, 'now the days decline.'
'I know,' said she.  'The weather,
  I hope, will at last be fine.

'I think,' she added lightly,
  'I'll look out at the door.
The ring the moon wears nightly,
  May be visible now no more.

She rose, and, little heeding,
  Her husband then went on
With his attentive reading
  In the annals of ages gone.

Outside the house a figure
  Came from the tumulus near,
And speedily waxed bigger,
  And clasped and called her Dear.

'I saw the pale-winged token
  You sent through the crack,' sighed she.
'That moth is burnt and broken
  With which you lured out me.

'And were I as the moth is
  It might be better far
For one whose marriage troth is
  Shattered as potsherds are!'

Then grinned the Ancient Briton
  From the tumulus treed with pine:
'So, hearts are thwartly smitten
  In these days as in mine!'


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