Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Skater of Ghost Lake

Ghost Lake's a dark lake, a deep lake and cold:
Ice black as ebony, frostily scrolled;
Far in its shadows a faint sound whirrs;
Steep stand the sentineled deep, dark firs.

A brisk sound, a swift sound, a ring-tinkle-ring;
Flit-flit,-- a shadow, with a stoop and a swing,
Flies from a shadow through the crackling cold.
Ghost Lake's a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Leaning and leaning with a stride and a stride,
Hands locked behind him, scarf blowing wide,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late,
Star for a candle, moon for a mate.

Black is the clear glass now that he glides,
Crisp is the whisper of long lean strides,
Swift is his swaying -- but pricked ears hark.
None comes to Ghost Lake late after dark!

Cecily only -- yes, it is she!
Stealing to Ghost Lake, tree after tree,
Kneeling in snow by the still lake side,
Rising with feet winged, gleaming, to glide.

Dust of the ice swirls. Here is his hand.
Brilliant his eyes burn. Now, as we planned,
Arm across arm twined, laced to his side,
Out on the dark lake lightly they glide.

Dance of the dim moon, a rhythmical reel,
A swaying, a swift tune -- skurr of the steel;
Moon for a candle, maid for a mate,
Jeremy Randall skates, skates late.

Black as if lacquered the wide lake lies;
Breath as a frost-fume, eyes seek eyes;
Souls are a sword-edge tasting the cold.
Ghost Lake's a deep lake, a dark lake and old!

Far in the shadows hear faintly begin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin,
Muffled in mist on the lake's far bound,
Swifter and swifter, a low singing sound!

Far in the shadows and faint on the verge
Of blue cloudy moonlight, see it emerge,
Flit-flit -- a phantom, with a stoop and a swing...
Ah, it's a night bird, burdened of wing!

Pressed close to Jeremy, laced to his side,
Cecily Culver, dizzy you glide.
Jeremy Randall sweepingly veers
out on the dark ice far from the piers.

"Jeremy!" "Sweetheart?" "What do you fear?"
"Nothing, my darling,--nothing is here!"
"Jeremy?" "Sweetheart?" "What do you flee?"
"Something--I know not; something I see!"

Swayed to a swift stride, brisker of pace,
Leaning and leaning, they race and they race;
Ever that whirring, that crisp sound thin
Like a string pluck-plucked of a violin;

Ever that swifter and low singing sound
Sweeping behind them, winding them round;
Gasp of their breath now that chill flakes fret;
Ice black as ebony--blacker--like jet!

Ice shooting fangs forth--sudden--like spears!
Crackling of lightning--a roar in their ears!
Shadowy, a phantom swerves off from its prey ...
No, it's a night bird flit-flits away!

Low-winging moth-owl, home to your sleep!
Ghost Lake's a still lake, a cold lake and deep.
Faint in its shadows a far sound whirrs.
Black stand the ranks of its sentinel firs.

William Rose Ben'et
photos courtesy of all posters

This is a narrative poem. It tells a story in more detail than does a ballad, and it was not intended to be sung. It has many of the qualities of a good ghost story.

When you think you have a plausible explanation of what happened at Ghost Lake, and when it happened, reread the poem to see how skillfully the poet involved you in the story.
S0...what happened on Ghost Lake?



Tracy said...

I had to read it twice just to get the full impact the poet intended. It is a wonderfully done poem, and it really does pull you in with words. Thank you for sharing.

Also i would like to thank you for your prayers and support on my blog. They are deeply appreciated.

Blessings sent your way.

Mary said...


Like Tracy, I had to read the poem twice. It does tell a story. I had never read this poem before. Thank you for sharing.

Yes, we had a beautiful evening with Brandon. Lots of laughs all the way around. He had a good time while his brother was at his friend's birthday sleepover.


Paula said...

I love this poem, Mimi, and have never read it before. Thanks so much for sharing it and the pictures you posted are fantastic.
I'm thinking that the ice was cracking and chasing poor Jeremy, but I may be totally off base. Going to have to read it again when I have more time.
Off to work now...

Nancy said...

Oh what a mystery, I think it is about lovers meeting in the dark night for one last skate together, and possibly fell through the ice to their death. Now give us the real story and thanks for stopping over come any time.