First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Stepmother And The Princess

Through fogs and magic spells All day I've guided you, Through loud alarms and yells, Through scent of wizard stew, Through midday pools of dew, Through crowds that moan and mock, Ogres at human feast, Blood-streams and battleshock, Past phantom bird and beast, Monsters of West and East. But this calm wood is hedged With the set shape of things; Here is no phoenix fledged, No gryphon flaps his wings, No dragons wave their stings.

Nothing is here that harms, No toothed or spiny grass, No tree whose clutching arms Drink blood when travellers pass, No poison-breathed Upas. Instead the lawns are soft, The tree-stems grave and old: Slow branches sway aloft, The evening air comes cold, The sunset scatters gold. Nay, there's no hidden lair For tigers or for apes, No dread of wolf or bear, No ghouls, no goblin shapes, No witches clad in capes. My cloak, my ermine cloak, Shall keep you warm and dry; Branches of elm I've broke To roof you as you lie Below the winking sky. Sleep now and think no ill, No evil soul comes near. The dreamy woods are still, Sigh, sleep, forget your fear, Sleep soundly, sleep, my dear.

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