Ambrose Bierce

The Death Of Halpin Frayser

Short Story by Ambrose Bierce

'Enthralled by some mysterious spell, I stood

In the lit gloom of an enchanted wood.

The cypress there and myrtle twined their boughs,

Significant, in baleful brotherhood.

'The brooding willow whispered to the yew;

Beneath, the deadly nightshade and the rue,

With immortelles self-woven into strange

Funereal shapes, and horrid nettles grew.

'No song of bird nor any drone of bees,

Nor light leaf lifted by the wholesome breeze:

The air was stagnant all, and Silence was

A living thing that breathed among the trees.

'Conspiring spirits whispered in the gloom,

Half-heard, the stilly secrets of the tomb.

With blood the trees were all adrip; the leaves

Shone in the witch-light with a ruddy bloom.

'I cried aloud! -- the spell, unbroken still,

Rested upon my spirit and my will.

Unsouled, unhearted, hopeless and forlorn,

I strove with monstrous presages of ill!

'At last the viewless -- '