Burning the Holly

O you are sad on Twelfth Night,
I notice: sad on Twelfth Night;
You are as sad on Twelfth Night
As any that I know.

" Yes: I am sad on that night,
Doubtless I'm sad on that night:
Yes; I am sad on that night,
For we all loved her so!"

Why are you sad on Twelfth Night,
Especially on Twelfth Night?
Why are you sad on Twelfth Night
When wit and laughter flow?

— " She'd been a famous dancer,
Much lured of men; a dancer.
She'd been a famous dancer,
Fadle in heel and toe. . . .

" And we were burning the holly
On Twelfth Night; the holly,
As people do: the holly,
Ivy, and mistletoe.

" And while it popped and crackled,
(She being our lodger), crackled;
And while it popped and crackled,
Her face caught by the glow,

" In he walked and said to her,
In a slow voice he said to her;
Yes, walking in he said to her,
" We sail before cock-crow. "

" " Why did you not come on to me,
As promised? Yes, come on to me?
Why did you not come on to me,
Since you had sworn to go? "

" His eyes were deep and flashing,
As flashed the holm-flames: flashing;
His eyes were deep, and flashing
In their quick, keen upthrow.

" As if she had been ready,
Had furtively been ready;
As if she had been ready
For his insistence — lo! —

" She clasped his arm and went with him
As his entirely: went with him.
She clasped his arm and went with him
Into the sprinkling snow.

" We saw the prickly leaves waste
To ashes: saw the leaves waste;
The burnt-up prickly leaves waste. . . .
The pair had gone also.

— " On Twelfth Night, two years after —
Yes, Twelfth Night, two years after;
On Twelfth Night, two years after,
We sat — our spirits low —

" Musing, when back the door swung
Without a knock. The door swung;
Thought flew to her. The door swung,
And in she came, pale, slow;

" Against her breast a child clasped;
Close to her breast a child clasped;
She stood there with the child clasped,
Swaying it to and fro.

" Her look alone the tale told;
Quite wordless was the tale told;
Her careworn eyes the tale told
As larger they seemed to grow. . . .

" One day next spring she disappeared,
The second time she disappeared.
And that time, when she'd disappeared
Came back no more. Ah, no!

" But we still burn the holly
On Twelfth Night; burn the holly
As people do: the holly,
Ivy, and mistletoe."
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