St. John's Wort by Ethel Lynn Beers

In the valleys of the Tyrol,

⁠When the twilight waxes dim,

And the elves are all exorcised

⁠By the tender vesper-hymn;


When the grim Walpurgis witches,

⁠Balder's host, are lying dead,—

Then they whisper tale and legend,

⁠Half in earnest, half in dread,


Of the dim St. John's wort shining

⁠Through one mystic summer night—

Of its branch across the doorway,

⁠Barring elfin curse and blight;


Whisper, too, a pleasant story,

⁠That its leaves within the shoe

Thus can make a journey tireless,

⁠Though its leagues be not a few.

If I gather from the meadow

⁠Slippers full to keep and wear,

Shall I never more be weary,

⁠Though I wander here and there?


Shall I falter on my pathway

⁠Never more as I do now?

Tell me then, O elfin legend,

⁠Where to gather, when, and how.


Must I go for it at midnight,

⁠When the witches gather fast?

Must I walk alone, and backward,

⁠Till the mystic leaf is passed?


Tell me, for I grow aweary,

⁠On the pathway of my life—

Weary of its sombre shadows,

⁠Weary of its aimless strife.


And I falter, fearful often;

⁠Tell me, legend, witch, or fay,

How to gather the St. John's wort,

⁠So I faint not by the way.⠀⠀