Clay F. Johnson

Writer | Poet | Pianist | sometime Alpinist | hopeless Romanticist

Lines Written by Moonlight at Whitby Abbey

Lines Written by Moonlight at Whitby Abbey


Within the shadows and madness of Night,
Where each whisper floats upon moon-silver
And soft voices breathe upon me like ice,
I wait impatient for Her haunted eyes,
For Her look of poetry without words
That speaks to me Keatsian without verse,
Without living warmth, touched by the cold hand
Of Death, sick with suicide-whisperings
Lingering on each disembodied breath,
Listening deeply I hear no sweeter mystery

And thus I breathe in each poisonous thought,
Each sugary strand of silent silver,
Ice-mists of cold enchantment, frosted moon-glow,
Wreathed upon my throat like an amulet
Of whispering witch-crystal, awakening
My eyes to the night-creatures of moonlight:
The skeletal-fingered bat, slithering
Things of opal serpent-scale, eyes of white,
And the silent shadows of the night-wolf,
Dripping living rubies for the blood is the life

And yet, as I trace each silent shadow,
Each deathless whisper of cold persuasion,
Floating on each silver-slithering beam
Shimmering with dreams of waking illusion,
I am consumed by Her frozen witch-flames,
Consumed by moonlight, each creature of Night—
And as I absorb Her deathly light, I too
Feel myself absorbed,—changed—metamorphosed
By Her all-intoxicating madness,
Beloved to all that is shadowful and strange

My eyes at once embrace this change, alive
Yet unalive, living yet death-dreaming,
Moon-changed until ice-stones become my eyes,
Yorkshire-frosted like ghost-quartz, crystalized,
Capturing the death-sparkle of black-moonstone—
Raven-feather black, corpse-black, a black-ice
Consuming my flesh like witches’ frostbite:
The creeping Night inspiring death to all life,
Until only a beam of cold moonlight
Tracing the traceries of Gothic stone remains alive

And yet it does not live, it does not breathe,
It has no eyes and thus it does not see—
But something exists, something watches me,
A pale ghost-light, a shadow lingering,
Capturing the cold night-glow of moonlight,
The frosts of midnight, dark ephemeral
Fleeting as Night’s transience immortal:
Yes, It is the night eternal, the darkness,
It is the spirit of night-existence
Watching without eyes Its children of the night

As It watches, I feel Its cold gaze,
I feel Its seduction and I again change:
My eyes, still silvered, materialize,
Appear before me like eyes of corpse-light,
A self-reflection of the demon-self,
The face behind the glass, pale and grave-cold,
Captured as magic-lantern necromancy,
Or sapphire-flames of the plague-dead, the death-fires,
Dancing as phantasmagoria ghost scenes
Blending two phantasies of one reality

† If you are interested in reading the final nine stanzas of this poem, including my other four poems, then please purchase “Influence of the Moon”—it is available in both Kindle format and paperback. You can find it here:

My poems are under contract for a year by 518 Publishing, a small press in New York run by four wonderful ladies. Please do support them.

The poems I have in this collection are:

 “From Shadow to Light”

 “Lines Written by Moonlight at Whitby Abbey”

 “The Queen of the Night”


 “A Lasting Impression”

© 2019 Clay F. Johnson