(_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
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.
(Cale Young Rice)
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Based on Keywords: drivel, foulness, moated, spurted, eerily, curd, fetid, haired, uncanny, sluice, stuttering