- The White Moth – Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch
Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch (1863-1944) was a Cornish writer who often published under the name, “Q.”
The White Moth
If a leaf rustled she would start:
And yet she died, a year ago.
How had so frail a thing the heart
To journey where she trembled so?
And do they turn and turn in fright,
Those little feet, in so much night?
The light above the poet’s head
Streamed on the page and on the cloth,
And twice and thrice there buffeted
On the black pane a white-winged moth:
‘Twas Annie’s soul that beat outside,
And, “Open, open, open!” cried.
“I could not find the way to God;
There were too many flaming suns
For signposts, and the fearful road
Led over wastes where millions
Of flaming comets hissed and burned—
I was bewildered and I turned.
“O, it was easy then! I knew
Your window, and no star beside.
Look up and take me back to you!”
He rose and thrust the window wide.
‘Twas but because his brain was hot
With rhyming; for he saw her not.
But poets polishing a phrase
Show anger over trivial things:
And as she blundered in the blaze
Towards him, on ecstatic wings,
He raised a hand and smote her dead;
Then wrote, “That I had died instead!”