Verse > Anthologies > Harriet Monroe, ed. > Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, 1912–22
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Harriet Monroe, ed. (1860–1936).  Poetry: A Magazine of Verse.  1912–22.
 
Laughing in the Moonlight
By Helen Louise Birch
 
THREE women laughing
In the moonlight,
In the night—
Eerie,
Strange,        5
With sound of water
Thundering up the cliff;
With sound that comes from swaying boughs
Of pine trees,
Giant pines of a virgin forest—        10
Fringe of wilderness,
The border
Of a narrow strip of clearing
On the bluffs.
 
Laughing! How their voices carry!        15
Fearlessly!
Such merriment
As must awake the sleepy soul of the forest.
Merriment so mad—
How it carries!        20
Elfish laughter—
Far out over the wicked waters,
Peals and peals!
 
And the moonlight wavers, glitters,
Strokes their white throats with its poison;        25
Makes its streaks and streams of silver
Cold and colder in its joy;
Sinks its sharp, silver-dappled, shining moon-fangs
In their eyes.
 
Laughing women,        30
Mad and merry,
Send their voices on the winds;
Calling destiny about them,
Calling to titanic powers:
Till their play,        35
And their lightness,
And their madness,
And their harsh and eerie laughter
Rouses forces that through aeons
Long have slept—        40
Slept and waited for a summons
Deep enough,
Wild enough,
Light enough,
And evil enough,        45
To call them forth.
Slow they stretch their unused muscles—
Answer in a dawning smile.
 
Three women are laughing in the moonlight,
In the night;        50
And earth is reeling
In light and shadow.
Air and water,
In some fearful manner,
Mingle        55
With their voices.
All of nature throngs and rushes
Into the vast,
Chaotic
Drift of sound—        60
A world of maddened, unchained souls,
Of wicked, savage glee!
 
Naked Earth
Swings into consciousness,
Uncovered,        65
Sudden,
Reeling in light and shadow,
Through this hellish, hellish laughter!—
Through this wild,
Malicious,        70
Evil,
Evil
Laughter!
 
 
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