Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, CHRISTMAS AT INDIAN POINT, by EDGAR LEE MASTERS



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CHRISTMAS AT INDIAN POINT, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Who is that calling through the night
Last Line: "and sobbed and sobbed, 'o emily.'"
Subject(s): Christmas; Nativity, The


Who is that calling through the night,
A wail that dies when the wind roars?
We heard it first on Shipley's Hill,
It faded out at Comingoer's.

Along five miles of wintry road
A horseman galloped with a cry,
"'Twas two o'clock," said Herman Pointer,
"When I heard clattering hoofs go by."

"I flung the winder up to listen;
I heerd him there on Gordon's Ridge;
I heerd the loose boards bump and rattle
When he went over Houghton's Bridge."

Said Roger Ragsdale: "I was doctorin'
A heifer in the barn, and then
My boy says: 'Pap, that's Billy Paris.'
'There,' says my boy, it is again."

"Says I: 'That kain't be Billy Paris,
We seed 'im at the Christmas tree.
It's two o'clock,' says I, 'and Billy
I seed go home with Emily.'

"'He is too old for galavantin'
Upon a night like this,' says I.
'Well, pap,' says he, 'I know that frosty,
Good-natured huskiness in that cry.'

"'It kain't be Billy,' says I, swabbin'
The heifer's tongue and mouth with brine,
'I never thought -- it makes me shiver,
And goose-flesh up and down the spine.'"

Said Doggie Traylor: "When I heard it
I 'lowed 'twas Pin Hook's rowdy new 'uns.
Them Cashner boys was at the schoolhouse
Drinkin' there at the Christmas doin's."

Said Pete McCue: "I lit a candle
And held it up to the winder pane.
But when I heerd again the holler
'Twere half-way down the Bowman Lane."

Said Andy Ensley: "First I knowed
I thought he'd thump the door away.
I hopped from bed, and says, 'Who is it?'
'O, Emily,' I heard him say.

"And there stood Billy Paris tremblin',
His face so white, he looked so queer.
'O Andy' -- and his voice went broken.
'Come in,' says I, 'and have a cheer.'

"'Sit by the fire,' I kicked the logs up,
'What brings you here? -- I would be told.'
Says he. 'My hand just ... happened near hers,
It teched her hand ... and it war cold.

"'We got back from the Christmas doin's
And went to bed, and she was sayin',
(The clock struck ten) if it keeps snowin'
To-morrow there'll be splendid sleighin'.'

"'My hand teched hers, the clock struck two,
And then I thought I heerd her moan.
It war the wind, I guess, for Emily
War lyin' dead.... She's thar alone.'

"I left him then to call my woman
To tell her that her mother died.
When we come back his voice was steady,
The big tears in his eyes was dried.

"He just sot there and quiet like
Talked 'bout the fishin' times they had,
And said for her to die on Christmas
Was somethin' 'bout it made him glad.

"He grew so cam he almost skeered us.
Says he: 'It's a fine Christmas over there.'
Says he: 'She was the lovingest woman
That ever walked this Vale of Care.'

"Says he: 'She allus laughed and sang,
I never heerd her once complain.'
Says he: 'It's not so bad a Christmas
When she can go and have no pain.'

"Says he: 'The Christmas's good for her.'
Says he: ... 'Not very good for me.'
He hid his face then in his muffler
And sobbed and sobbed, 'O Emily.'"





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