'Twas the witching hour
In the cavernous gloom
of the dead hush of midnight
I rode alone
Toward that dusky and indistinct waste of waters
I am a Rational Man
I stand up for sense and justice
I believe in sense and reason, cause and consequence
But alone at this dismal hour
as the stars sink deeper in the sky
a rational mind may be controverted
by tales of the spirit world
I whistled to myself, softly, in the dark
My whistle was answered
Who was whistling with me?
'Twas only the wind
Sweeping sharply through the dry branches
Dreaming sounds need no ghosts come from the grave
Odd noises abound without benefit of ghouls and goblins
We must use our brains to detect
the rubbing of one huge bough against another
as they are swayed about in the breeze
The dreary hooting of the screech-owl
The guttural twang of a bull-frog in the marsh
(though how does it know my name?)
It's only a frog
Only the wind
No something is there a towering black shape gathered in the gloom
Some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller?
And now the form of the unknown might be in some degree ascertained
The spectre, my strange midnight companion, was you
A headless rider atop a black steed
We rode upon the wings of the wind
We dashed through thick and thin
stones flying, sparks flashing at every bound
Towards the bridge famous in goblin story
Towards the waning reflection of a silver star in the bosom of the brook
Towards the walls of the church dimly glaring under the trees beyond
Your black steed was close behind me
When I faced my fears.
I reined in, turned to face you.
I did not believe in galloping ghosts --
But then, nor would I have believed in you.
Would you vanish in a flash of fire and brimstone?
But your headless figure hurled its skull at me with a tremendous crash
I tumbled headlong into the dust
Was it the stroke of midnight
when the ghoulish trophy
proved but a pumpkin?
The black steed's goblin rider
Was but my rustic, rantipole hero
The frolic under your overbearing roughness
As startling and joyful
As the vivid blue eyes in your furnace-tanned face
When the Beauty faced the fearsome Beast
He became a charming Prince
Summoning up a show of courage
I faced my terrors only to find --
Not a demon
Scattering my ghosts
with your high spirits.