The Hidden Pool

By George Sterling

Far in a wildwood dim and great and cool,
    I found a cavern old,
Where grew, above a pure, unfathomed pool,
    A flower of elfin gold.

There, though the night came lone of any lamp,
    Chill on the flower fell
A pallor faint, inimical and damp,
    A halo like in Hell.

Lambent it gleamed within the twilight calm,
    Long fugitive of day—
Malign, I thought, with alien dew and balm,
    A moon of baneful ray.

A breath of attar, fallen from the bloom,
    Made opiate the air,
Like wafture of an undulant perfume,
    Flown from enchanted hair.

A vampire bat, malignant, purple, cold,
    At midnight came to gleam
The honey that each petal would withhold
    From all but the unclean.

Goblin and witch, I dream, have mingled here
    The venom of their blood,
Nightly communing when that flower of fear
    Had broken not the bud.

But, lich or lemur, none remained to note
    The pollen falling chill,
A film on rock or pool, each yellow mote
    Pregnant with hate and ill.

None other bent to watch, within that crypt,
    The troubled water foam,
Nor knew, beyond, what violet ichor dripped
    From wall and hidden dome,

Nor why (though none came there to fail and drown)
    The troubled fountain boiled,
When touched in that dark clarity, deep down,
    A pallid hydra coiled.

What ghoul may come to pluck that flower of doom
    No witch hath rendered clear:
The warden of an unrevealing gloom,
    I watch and wait and fear.

It well may be a Form of death may own
    The twilight for a pall;
Till then I haunt the caverned air alone,
    With quiet under all.

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