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Frost on the Window summary

"I wrote a great deal of verse when I was young, and it did come as naturally as leaves to a tree. That does not imply (nor did Keats mean it to imply) that it was not technically hard work, but rather that I did tend in youth to think in terms of poetry, to shape life in those terms, catching things seen and heard in imagery, as a painter sees the surrounding world in his own terms of colour and form.

The poems lay forgotten for many years, and only lately did I begin to wonder if I should make some attempt to preserve them, if somewhere I might have written a few lines that would be worth keeping. So I have put together some of the verses of my youth."

—from the foreword, 1990


The Circle

I cut my finger on a thorn,
  Drew a circle with the blood,
Traced it round a-widdershins,
  Then silent in the middle stood.

Came a maiden tall and fair,
  Passing fair to look upon;
Came, and wept, and as I looked,
  Lo, the lovely maid was gone!

Came another, fairer yet,
  Sea-green eyes and hair like mist;
Like a wraith she poised, and smiled,
  And vanished when I would have kissed.

I leaned from out the circle-charm,
  Plucked a bulrush from the stream,
Split it. There a maiden stood,
  Lovely as a moon-mad dream.

The blood upon my finger dried;
  The maiden smiled, and made to stay;
But I from out the circle stept,
  And laughed, and went upon my way.