Of a Phantom

“It fell about the Martinmas,” as well as I remember it—
I think it was November; it was after Halloween—
And I sprang up from dreaming, and in my midnight solitude
I found these words: they spoke themselves, to say what I had seen.

She came, so small and shivering: I wondered what had frightened her!
I tightened her in circling arms, and, oh, but she was chill—
She climbed at once to my embrace: I felt her shaken, quivering.
I heard the loud November gust that scoured the window sill.

Blown, lost and maddened in the night—what gales had nearly perished her?
I cherished her, and soothed her close; I clasped her, flesh and bone;
And with a father's tenderness and no emotion carnaller
I held the sorry little corp to warm it at my own.

I saw her not, but somehow guessed the darkened little face of her—
The pitiful small grace of her, so stricken and so wild;
Undisciplined and desperate, a swept November flitterling—
So, in the bedstead of my arms, she slept, a frightened child.

Such was my dream. I have no care to set about debating it:
Translating it so often robs a dream of half its charms.
I just happen to be thinking of a lonely wet November
And a phantom of poor innocence that crept into my arms.
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