Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, NIGHT ON DARTMOOR, by MARY DOREEN SPENDER

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

NIGHT ON DARTMOOR, by                
First Line: Dark - and a still night, lying up here on dartmoor
Last Line: Gone! Beautiful wordless voice, and feet of the far off dancers.
Subject(s): Dartmoor, England; Night; Bedtime

Dark—and a still night, lying up here on Dartmoor
Cheek to the moorland grasses, dreaming awake in the blackness,
Long-left houses of men and their graves and temples
I know as stones on the torside.
Not a bird is awake. And no beast moves in the brambles.
What can be here, in this land of ling and bracken,
Which calls and calls through the hovering clouds of the hill-mist
And mists of the long forgotten?
Hark! Far away is sounding and beating a measure.
—Not the grey river, though that, too, sounds in the valley—
Beating! A tiny drum in the darkness,
And far, far off the note of a horn is calling!

Yes, it's a measure for dancing feet,
Light, and far in some hollow,
Distant and tiny, unearthly sweet,
Shall I arise and follow?

They must be dancing over the rise
Who is playing the measure?
Glistening colours of what strange dyes,
Brightness and airy pleasure!

Clear comes the call of the music's beat,
And a harper's notes are ringing,
A fiddle keeps time for the dancers' feet
And a wordless voice is singing.

Sweeter and brighter than moon or sun
Must be the lights and the faces.
I go to join the fairy fun,
With the dancers in their places.

Dark—and a still night, standing up here on Dartmoor.
Only the river babbles, far down there in the valley—
I know there are homes and graves of the long-forgotten—
But, ah! no lights—no harp sounds over the grasses!
Gone! Beautiful wordless voice, and feet of the far off dancers.

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