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The Haunted Hazel
Adown a quiet glen where the gowan-berries glisten
And the linnet, shyest bird of all, his wild note warbles free;
Where the scented woodbine-blossoms, o'er the brooklet, bend to listen,
There stands upon a mossy bank, a white-hazel tree.
Oh! fair it is to view, when the zephyr rustles lightly,
And warm sunlight glances back from polished bole and branch;
For then like wavelets on a rill the pendent leaves flash brightly,
And daisies nod in concert, round the column straight and staunch.
But when the day is ended, and the solemn moon is shining,
And shadows grim and ghostly, fall on grove and glen and lea,
Then godless elves their fairy paths with glow-worm lamps are lining,
And potent spells of magic bind this white-hazel tree!
For from their gorgeous palaces the fairy bands come stealing,
To dance in sportive circles on the never bending moss;
And the velvet-soft caressing of their finger-touches healing,
Brings to the sere white-hazel bark again its youthful gloss.
And round and round they skip and glide, in strange fantastic measure,
To weird, unhallowed melodies of fairy minstrelsy,
Yet mortal ear may never hear those sounds of elfin pleasure,
And no whisper of its secrets gives the white-hazel tree!
But should the peasant wander nigh that baleful bower, unthinking,
And sudden feel the chilling of the haunted hazel's shade,
A nameless horror seizes on his spirit, bowed and shrinking,
And making oft the Holy Sign, he hurries home dismayed.
For maid that treads the path of doom beneath the hazel's shadow,
Shall be the bride of Death, they say, before a month has flown;
And laughing swain, in pride of strength, who crossed at eve the meadow,
Shall moulder 'neath the matted moss, e'er yet that mead is mown!
So, in the solemn hours of night the fairies dance unharmed,
Till thro' gray dawn the haggard moon her waning span doth dree,
Then from the blessèd sunbeam flies the evil power that charmed,
And fairy spell is lifted from the white-hazel tree!
James Bernard Dollard