Cale Young Rice Poems >>
Written In Hell

(_By Sir Giles, whom the Witch of Urm leads to Judas Iscariot_)

  Against a castle moated gloomily by a bitter drain of blood,
  From whose fetid wave contumely
  Of all truth was reeking fumily
  And infectiously, I stood;
    Waiting for her sign--
    A shriek repeated nine.

  I shrank at every aspish quivering fear set crawling in my breast.
  But betimes I felt a shivering
  Shriek cut ear and brain with slivering
  Stings of terror, sin, unrest--
    Christ! it raised the dead
    Out of the moat's black bed.

  Nine times--and then across the thickening reek a rusty draw was
  Thro portcullis sped a quickening
  Shadow past to where with sickening
  Feet, befixed by awe I stopped--
    There she laughed a laugh
    No devil's soul could quaff.

  I swear its clamor tore the stuttering leaves from shrub and shrunken
  Swear no limbo e'er heard muttering
  Like that spawn of echoes sputtering
  Midnight with their drunken glee--
    Yet, ere half were done,
    I could not hear a one.

  She put her finger burning eerily to my lips--I heard them lock.
  Led me then a marsh-way, cheerily--
  Tho the quick ooze spurted drearily
  Thro root-rotten curd and rock.
    Things like water-ghouls
    Slid slimily in pools.

  She stepped just once upon a hideous burrow, dank and haired with grass;
  Fixed upon me eyes perfidious
  As a fiend's are, yet insidious--
  Questioned if I dared to pass.
    "I will search all Hell
    To find him," from me fell.

  And so was drawn thro dark cadaverous with the sound of gabbling dead.
  Where we heard them hoot palaverous
  Drivel learned beneath unsavorous
  Moulds, and saw a glutton's head
    Grin to a hissing bat,
    That scraped him as he spat.

  Witch she was, I knew, turned shepherdess to a soul blind as a sheep's.
  But I dogged her on o'er jeopardous
  Steeps down which she sped with leopardess
  Limbs into miasmic deeps.
    "Swim," she gasped behind--
    Then like a she-wolf whined.

  It almost seemed to me as deadening as the sluice of dreary Styx.
  Fire and foulness mixed with leadening
  Slush I drank; but swam the reddening
  Stuff a league with weary licks.
    Up a sulphurous bank
    We climbed, and there I sank.

  Again she laughed that laugh--a shrivelling, ghastly, gaunt, uncanny
  Up I sprang and cursed my snivelling
  Soul for weariness--for drivelling,
  And for so forgetting Hate.
    "You will find him there"
    She pointed--thro her hair.

  I write these words from Hell where bloodily locked with him in fight
          I woke.
  Where we fall down caverns ruddily
  Spilt with glazing gore and muddily
  Dashed with stagnant night and smoke.
    Yet I do not care,
    For he groans by me--there.