The Night Journey, Terri Windling

Undine, Arthur Rackham

Go by coombe, by candle light,

by moonlight, starlight, stepping stone,

and step o’er bracken, branches, briars,

and go tonight, and go alone,

go by water, go by willow,

go by ivy, oak and ash,

and rowan berries red as blood,

and breadcrumbs, stones, to mark the path;

find the way by water’s whisper,

water rising from a womb

of granite, peat, of summer heat,

to slake your thirst and fill the coombe

and tumble over moss and stone

and feed the roots of ancient trees

and call to you: go, now, tonight,

by water, earth, phyllomancy,

by candle flame, by spirit-name,

by spells, by portents, myth and song,

by drum beat, heart beat, earth pulsing

beneath your feet, calling you home,

calling you back, calling you through

the water, wood, the waste, the wild,

the hills where Dartmoor ponies pass,

and black-faced sheep, a spectral child,

a fox with pale unnatural eyes,

an owl, a badger, ghostly deer

with horns of star light, candle light

to guide the way, to lead you here,

to lead you to the one who waits,

who sits and waits upon the tor,

he waits and watches, wondering

if you’re the one he’s waiting for;

he waits by dawn, by dusk, by dark,

by sun, by rain, by day, by night,

his hair as black as ravens’ wings,

his eyes of amber, skin milk white,

his skin tattooed with spiral lines

beneath a mask of wood and leaves

and polished stone and sun-bleached bone,

beneath a shirt of spiders’ weave,

his wrists weighted with silver bands

and copper braids tarnished to green,

he waits for you, unknown and yet

familiar from forgotten dreams;

you dream and stir upon your bed

and toss and turn among the sheets,

the wind taps at the window glass

and water tumbles through the leat

and through the garden, through the wood,

and over moss and over stone

and tells you: go, by candle light,

and go tonight, and go alone;

he’s sent you dreams, he’s left you signs,

he’s left you feathers, beads and runes,

so go, tonight, by candle light,

by ash and oak, by wood, by coombe.

~Terri Windling

This entry was posted in Arthur Rackham, poetry, Terri Windling. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The Night Journey, Terri Windling

  1. coalblack says:

    This entire poem is one incredibly long sentence. It has a nice flowing feel to it, pretty language, and the mention of the animals was my favorite part, but still; one sentence? Why? Perhaps to give the feel of a journey without stopping, but it still bugs me, to be honest.

  2. posillipo69 says:

    disquieting, inquietante

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