Some people may view a few of the poems by Patience Worth as somewhat macabre; perhaps one or two might be considered so and used as a Halloween poem. But many of the poems of Patience Worth provide a thought or comment that is positive and uplifting in spite of a somewhat morose or depressing topic. Since Patience Worth purportedy was a ‘ghost’, discussions about death didn’t seem to bother her since she had experienced it (at least once) and now lived in eternity. She has commented that Death is “Cheap pence paid for eternity and yet man whines!” And when queried about the experience of dying she said, “A bit weary wi’ the fetters, a yawn, a blink and the wakin’ ” On September 20, 1915 as part of a small discourse, Patience said that , “Thou didst see not with thine eyes o’ flesh afore thy coming. Aye but at thy bearing, thy mother oped up thine eyes and thee didst see and behold o’ the Earth. Aye, now list thee, Death then, is thy mother, for hark at her bearing thou shalt shut up thy eyes o’ flesh and see o’ the Land o’ Here. Yea and yea and yea, and at hours thou knowest not where cometh that thou hast ne’er seen or heard. And yet it be and ’tis thine, and thou didst ne’er touch, aye, or see this thing.
Patience was asked once why there should be evil. Her response was “There be naught o’ evil; it abideth not. ‘Tis dreams awry.
And so in the ‘spirit’ of Halloween, I present the following poems by Patience Worth.
A DANCE WITH DEATH
There is a riotous dance with a weird strain floating.
Encircled am I with a grewsome arm!
Wildly I float with the shroud’s cloth flying
And the rattle of Death’s frame close!
Oh, his lips are gone and his eyes are hollow,
Pits of dark with ne’er a gleam;
And his teeth are snagged and his jaws are set
And the mould lies green ‘pon his bones!
To a fiendish whine do we trip our way
And the shroud fans cool ‘pon my cheek.
And my feet are froze and my lips are stiffed
As we dance the riotous maze.
With a rattling hand he clasps mine own
And his gait doth clicket much!
And I wake to start and scream aloud
With frenzied fear beset!
‘Twere the curd and whey at the mid-hour’s sup
That set me dreamin’ so.
Fearing, fearing, heart! look not with fearing ‘pon thy day!
Nay, look then unto the works o’ Him that shew thee o’ the way.
Dost fear the day-tide close? Dost fear the even-twi hour—the darksome tide;
And dost thou fear the shutting o’ thine eyes unto the earth?
Doth then their close spell dark, yea, dark o’ ever!
Nay, fear not, fear not! But look!
The mist-maid o’ the early dawn doth dance the vale
And cast her silvered robes to shimmer ‘neath the sun;
And bound from hillside o’er unto the vallied place,
And wrap the earth so close,—so close,
As though she loved o’ it, and lothed to leave.
And yet when sun doth climb, ah, look thee then!
She casteth o’ her robe and meeteth him,
Arms flung ope, to melt unto a naught!
Unfearing doth she go to mingle mid the vasts
And meet with mists o’ sisters’ robes and come aback
A glistened drop of rain’s sweet cool.
See, this be but mist.
And yet o’ Him, and feareth not.
But thou dost fear, and thou art builded up o’ Him,
And loved o’ Him and be His own.
Then thinkest thou that fear should set thy path?
Who art thou,
Who tracketh ‘pon the path o’ me—
O’ each turn, aye, and track?
Thou! And thou astand!
And o’er thy face a cloud,
Aye, a darked and somber cloud!
Who art thou,
Thou tracker ‘mid the day’s bright,
And ‘mid the night’s deep;
E’en when I be astopped o’ track?
Who art thou,
Who toucheth o’ the flesh o’ me,
And sendeth chill unto the heart o’ me?
Aye, and who art thou,
Who putteth forth thy hand
And setteth at alow the hopes o’ me?
Aye, who art thou,
Who bideth ever ‘mid a dream?
Aye, and that the soul o’ me
Doth shrink at know?
Who art thou? Who art thou,
Who steppeth ever to my day,
And blotteth o’ the sun away?
Who art thou,
Who steppeth to Earth at birth o’ me,
And e’en ‘mid wail o’ weak,
Aye, at the birth o’ wail,
Did set a chill ‘pon infant flesh;
And at the track o’ man ‘pon Earth
Doth follow ever, and at height
Afollow, and doth touch,
And all doth crumble to a naught?
Thou! thou! Who art thou?
Ever do I to ask, and ever wish
To see the face o’ thee,
And ne’er, ne’er do I to know thee—
Thou, the Traveler ‘pon the path o’ me,
And, Brother, thou dost give
That which world doth hold
From see o’ me.
Stand thou! Stand thou!
And draw thy cloak from o’er thy face!
Ever hath the dread o’ thee
Clutched at the heart o’ me.
Aye, and at the end o’ journey,
I beseech thee,
Cast thy cloak and show thee me!
Aye show thee me!
Ah, thou art the gift o’ Him!
The Key to There! The Love o’ Earth!
Aye, and Hate hath made o’ man
To know thee not—
Thou! Thou! O Death!
Witcheries of dank, dark places;
Magic of the sod, like wits,
Bespring from whence—from where?