The Ogre

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The Ogre
written by Walter de la Mare
Songs of Childhood (1902)




    'Tis moonlight on Trebarwith Vale,
      And moonlight on an Ogre keen,
    Who prowling hungry through the dale
      A lone cottage hath seen.

    Small with thin smoke ascending up
      Three casements and a door:--
    The Ogre eager is to sup,
      And here seems dainty store.

    Sweet as a larder to a mouse,
      So to him staring down,
    Seemed the sweet-windowed moonlit house,
      With jasmine overgrown.

    He snorted, as the billows snort
      In darkness of the night,
    Betwixt his lean locks tawny-swart,
      He glowered on the sight.

    Into the garden sweet with peas
      He put his wooden shoe,
    And bending back the apple trees
      Crept covetously through;

    Then, stooping, with an impious eye
      Stared through the lattice small,
    And spied two children which did lie
      Asleep, against the wall.

    Into their dreams no shadow fell,
      Of his disastrous thumb
    Groping discreet, and gradual,
      Across the quiet room.

    But scarce his nail had scraped the cot
      Wherein these children lay,
    As if his malice were forgot,
      It suddenly did stay.

    For faintly in the ingle-nook
      He heard a cradlesong,
    That rose into his thoughts and woke
      Terror them among.

    For she who in the kitchen sat
      Darning by the fire,
    Guileless of what he would be at,
      Sang sweet as wind or wire:--

    'Lullay, thou little tiny child,
      By-by, lullay, lullie;
    Jesu of glory, meek and mild,
      This night remember ye!

    'Fiend, witch, and goblin, foul and wild,
      He deems 'em smoke to be;
    Lullay, thou little tiny child,
      By-by, lullay, lullie!'

    The Ogre lifted up his eyes
      Into the moon's pale ray,
    And gazed upon her leopard-wise,
      Cruel and clear as day;

    He snarled in gluttony and fear:
      'The wind blows dismally,
    Jesu in storm my lambs be near,
      By-by, lullay, lullie!'

    And like a ravenous beast which sees
      The hunter's icy eye,
    So did this wretch in wrath confess
      Sweet Jesu's mastery.

    He lightly drew his greedy thumb
      From out that casement pale,
    And strode, enormous, swiftly home,
      Whinnying down the dale.

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