The wood so softly singing
In a language strange to hear
And the song it sings will find you
As the twilight draws you near


The Trapped Moon

LONG ago, in my grandmother's time, the Carland was all in bogs, great pools of black water, and creeping trickles of green water, and squishy mools which squirted when you stepped on them. Well, granny used to say how long before her time the Moon herself was once dead and buried in the marshes, and as she used to tell me, I'll tell you all about it.

The Moon up yonder shone and shone, just as she does now, and when she shone she lighted up the bog-pools, so that one could walk about almost as safe as in the day. But when she didn't shine, out came the Things that dwelt in the darkness and went about seeking to do evil and harm; Bogies and Crawling Horrors, all came out when the Moon didn't shine. Well, the Moon heard of this, and being kind and good - as she surely is, shining for us in the night instead of taking her natural rest - she was main troubled. 'I'll see for myself, I will,' said she, 'maybe it's not so bad as folks make out.' Sure enough, at the month's end down she stept, wrapped up in a black cloak, and a black hood over her shining hair. Straight she went to the bog edge and looked about her. Water here and water there; waving tussocks and trembling mools, and great black snags all twisted and bent. Before her all was dark - dark but for the glimmer of the stars in the pools, and the light that came from her own white feet, stealing out of her black cloak.

The Moon drew her cloak faster about and trembled, but she wouldn't go back without seeing all there was to be seen; so on she went, stepping as light as the wind in summer from tuft to tuft between the greedy gurgling water-holes. Just as she came near a big black pool her foot slipped and she was nigh tumbling in. She grabbed with both hands at a snag near by to steady herself with, but as she touched it, it twined itself round her wrists, like a pair of handcuffs, and gript her so that she couldn't move. She pulled and twisted and fought, but it was no good. She was fast, and must stay fast.

Presently as she stood trembling in the dark, wondering if help would come, she heard something calling in the distance, calling, calling, and then dying away with a sob, till the marshes were full of this pitiful crying sound; then she heard steps floundering along, squishing in the mud and slipping on the tufts, and through the darkness she saw a white face with great feared eyes. 'Twas a man strayed in the bogs. Mazed with fear, he struggled on towards the flickering light that looked like help and safety. And when the poor Moon saw that he was coming nigher and nigher to the deep hole, further and further from the path, she was so mad and so sorry that she struggled and fought and pulled harder than ever. And though she couldn't get loose, she twisted and turned, till her black hood fell back off her shining hair, and the beautiful light that came from it drove away the darkness.

Oh, but the man cried with joy to see the light again. And at once all evil things fled back into the dark corners, for they cannot abide the light. So he could see where he was, and where the path was, and how he could get out of the marsh. And he was in such haste to get away from the Quicks, and Bogles, and Things that dwelt there, that he scarce looked at the brave light that came from the beautiful shining hair, streaming out over the black cloak and falling to the water at his feet. And the Moon herself was so taken up with saving him, and with rejoicing that he was back on the right path, that she clean forgot that she needed help herself, and that she was held fast by the Black Snag.

So off he went; spent and gasping, and stumbling and sobbing with joy, flying for his life out of the terrible bogs. Then it came over the Moon she would like to go with him. So she pulled and fought as if she were mad, till she fell on her knees, spent with tugging, at the foot of the snag. And as she lay there, gasping for breath, the black hood fell forward over her head. So out went the blessed light and back came the darkness, with all its Evil Things, with a screech and a howl. They came crowding round her, mocking and snatching and beating; shrieking with rage and spite, and swearing and snarling, for they knew her for their old enemy, that drove them back into the corners, and kept them from working their wicked wills. 'Drat thee!' yelled the witch-bodies, 'thou'st spoiled our spells this year agone!'
'And us thou sent'st to brood in the corners!' howled the Bogles.
And all the Things joined in with a great 'Ho, ho!' till the very tussocks shook and the water gurgled. And they began again.
'We'll poison her - poison her!' shrieked the witches. And 'Ho-ho!' howled the Things again.'We'll smother her - smother her!' whispered the Crawling Horrors, and twined themselves round her knees. And 'Ho, ho!' mocked the rest of them.

And again they all shouted with spite and ill will. And the poor Moon crouched down, and wished she was dead and done with.
And they fought and squabbled what they should do with her, till a pale grey light began to come in the sky; and it drew nigh the dawning. And when they saw that, they were feared lest they shouldn't have time to work their will; and they caught hold of her, with horrid bony fingers, and laid her deep in the water at the foot of the snag. And the Bogles fetched a strange big stone and rolled it on top of her, to keep her from rising. And they told two of the Will-o-the-wykes to take turns in watching on the black snag, to see that she lay safe and still, and couldn't get out to spoil their sport.
And there lay the poor Moon, dead and buried in the bog, till someone would set her loose, and who'd know where to look for her?

Well, the days passed, and 'twas the time for the new moon's coming, and the folk put pennies in their pockets and straws in their caps so as to be ready for her, and looked about, for the Moon was a good friend to the marsh folk, and they were glad when the dark time was gone, and the paths were safe again, and the Evil Things were driven back by the blessed Light into the darkness and the water-holes.
But days and days passed, and the new Moon never came, and the nights were aye dark, and the Evil Things were worse than ever. And still the days went on, and the new Moon never came. Naturally the poor folk were strangely feared and mazed, and a lot of them went to the Wise Woman who dwelt in the old mill, and asked if so be she could find out where the Moon was gone.

'Well,' said she, after looking in the brewpot, and in the mirror, and in the Book, 'it be main queer, but I can't rightly tell ye what's happened to her. If ye hear of aught, come and tell me.' So they went their ways; and as days went by, and never a Moon came, naturally they talked - my word! I reckon they did talk! Their tongues wagged at home, and at the inn, and in the garth. But so came one day, as they sat on the great settle in the inn, a man from the far end of the bog lands was smoking and listening, when all at once he sat up and slapped his knee. 'My faicks!' says he, 'I'd clean forgot, but I reckon I kens where the Moon be!' and he told them of how he was lost in the bogs, and how, when he was nigh dead with fright, the light shone out, and he found the path and got home safe. So off they all went to the Wise Woman, and told her about it, and she looked long in the pot and the Book again, and then she nodded her head.
'It's dark still, childer, dark!' says she, 'and I can't rightly see, but do as I tell ye, and ye'll find out for yourselves. Go all of ye, just afore the night gathers, put a stone in your mouth, and take a hazel-twig in your hands, and say never a word till you're safe home again. Then walk on and fear not, far into the midst of the marsh, till ye find a coffin, a candle, and a cross. Then ye'll not be far from your Moon; look, and happen ye'll find her.'

So came the next night in the darklings, out they went all together, every man with a stone in his mouth, and a hazel-twig in his hand, and feeling, thou may'st reckon, feared and creepy. And they stumbled and stottered along the paths into the midst of the bogs; they saw naught, though they heard sighings and flutterings in their ears, and felt cold wet fingers touching them; but all at once, looking around for the coffin, the candle, and the cross, while they came nigh to the pool beside the great snag, where the Moon lay buried. And all at once they stopped, quaking and mazed and skeery, for there was the great stone, half in, half out of the water, for all the world like a strange big coffin; and at the head was the black snag, stretching out its two arms in a dark gruesome cross, and on it a tiddy light flickered, like a dying candle.

Then they went nigher, and took hold of the big stone, and shoved it up, and afterwards they said that for one tiddy minute they saw a strange and beautiful face looking up at them glad-like out of the black water; but the Light came so quick and so white and shining, that they stept back mazed with it, and the very next minute, when they could see again, there was the full Moon in the sky, bright and beautiful and kind as ever, shining and smiling down at them, and making the bogs and the paths as clear as day, and stealing into the very corners, as though she'd have driven the darkness and the Bogles clean away if she could.

From Folktales of the Lincolnshire Cars


The Well at the World’s End

This story from the collection of Joseph Jacobs English Fairy Tales. (1890) from a source given as Leyden's edition of The Complaynt of Scotland, contains the interesting variant on the theme of the frog becoming a handsome prince in that his head has to be cut off for this to happen. There are other tales where the head (of an animal or a person) has to be cut off and put into a well in order for some transformation to take place (see discussion HERE).


ONCE upon a time, and a very good time it was, though it wasn't in my time, nor in your time, nor anyone else's time, there was a girl whose mother had died, and her father married again. And her stepmother hated her because she was more beautiful than herself, and she was very cruel to her. She used to make her do all the servant's work, and never let her have any peace. At last, one day, the stepmother thought to get rid of her altogether; so she handed her a sieve and said to her: 'Go, fill it at the Well of the World's End and bring it home to me full, or woe betide you.' For she thought she would never be able to find the Well of the World' s End, and, if she did, how could she bring home a sieve full of water?

Well, the girl started off, and asked everyone she met to tell her where was the Well of the World's End. But nobody knew, and she didn't know what to do, when a queer little old woman, all bent double, told her where it was, and how she could get to it. So she did what the old woman told her, and at last arrived at the Well of the World's End. But when she dipped the sieve in the cold, cold water, it all ran out again. She tried and tried again, but every time it was the same; and at last she sat down and cried as if her heart would break.

Suddenly she heard a croaking voice, and she looked up and saw a great frog with goggle eyes looking at her and speaking to her.

'What's the matter, dearie?' it said.

'Oh, dear, oh dear,' she said, 'my stepmother has sent me all this long way to fill this sieve with water from the Well of the World's End, and I can't fill it no how at all.'

'Well,' said the frog, 'if you promise me to do whatever I bid you for a whole night long, I'll tell you how to fill it.'

So the girl agreed, and the frog said:

'Stop it with moss and daub it with clay,
And then it will carry the water away';

then it gave a hop, skip, and jump, and went flop into the Well of the World's End.

So the girl looked about for some moss, and lined the bottom of the sieve with it, and over that she put some clay, and then she dipped it once again into the Well of the World's End; and this time, the water didn't run out, and she turned to go away.

Just then the frog popped up its head out of the Well of the World's End, and said: 'Remember your promise.'

'All right,' said the girl; for thought she, 'What harm can a frog do me?'

So she went back to her stepmother, and brought the sieve full of water from the Well of the World's End. The stepmother was angry as angry, but she said nothing at all.

That very evening they heard something tap-tapping at the door low down, and a voice cried out:

'Open the door, my hinny, my heart,
Open the door, my own darling;
Mind you the words that you and I spoke,
Down in the meadow, at the World's End Well.'

'Whatever can that be?' cried out the stepmother, and the girl had to tell her about it, and what she had promised the frog.

'Girls must keep their promises,' said the stepmother. 'Go and open the door this instant.' For she was glad the girl would have to obey a nasty frog.

So the girl went and opened the door, and there was the frog from the Well of the World's End. And it hopped, and it hopped, and it jumped, till it reached the girl, and then it said:

'Lift me to your knee, my hinny, my heart;
Lift me to your knee, my own darling;
Remember the words you and I spake,
Down in the meadow, by the World's End Well.'

But the girl didn't like to, till her stepmother said: 'Lift it up this instant, you hussy! Girls must keep their promises!'

So at last she lifted the frog up on to her lap, and it lay there for a time, till at last it said:

'Give me some supper, my hinny, my heart,
Give me some supper, my darling;
Remember the words you and I spake,
In the meadow, by the Well of the World's End.'

Well, she didn't mind doing that, so she got it a bowl of milk and bread, and fed it well. And when the frog had finished, it said:

'Go with me to bed, my hinny, my heart,
Go with me to bed, my own darling;
Mind you the words you spake to me,
Down by the cold well, so weary.'

But that the girl wouldn't do, till her stepmother said: 'Do what you promised, girl; girls must keep their promises. Do what you're bid, or out you go, you and your froggie.'

So the girl took the frog with her to bed, and kept it as far away from her as she could. Well, just as the day was beginning to break what should the frog say but:

'Chop off my head, my hinny, my heart,
Chop off my head, my own darling;
Remember the promise you made to me,
Down by the cold well, so weary.'

At first the girl wouldn't, for she thought of what the frog had done for her at the Well of the World's End. But when the frog said the words over again she went and took an axe and chopped off its head, and lo! and behold, there stood before her a handsome young prince, who told her that he had been enchanted by a wicked magician, and he could never be unspelled till some girl would do his bidding for a whole night, and chop off his head at the end of it.

The stepmother was surprised indeed when she found the young prince instead of the nasty frog, and she wasn't best pleased, you may be sure, when the prince told her that he was going to marry her stepdaughter because she had unspelled him. But married they were, and went away to live in the castle of the king, his father, and all the stepmother had to console her was that it was all through her that her stepdaughter was married to a prince.



Autumn bides her weary time till trees like setting suns have had
their evening splendour out and even misty mornings bring the joy
of rattling rusts and roses bristling in the breezes, sere like
the skins of bark beneath them.

Bright their hue in the sun's rich light
In gold & yellow & dun they're dight
But they keen in the wind's chill breath.

In a brief storm in a black night
One falls and is wan in the paling light
And the dun darkens to death.
Cold was the mire underfoot
And wet were the feet that trod
Thin was the cry she heard in the storm
And broken in the sod - her god.

Sorrows untold for her weary lord
Pierced her through with pain
And she gave him her gown of
Gold & brown and one of black she made.

Then the land was dark
As she cast it wide
And the bare hillside
Was chill and stark
As winter's grip
The spells unrhymed
That summer made;
Hoar frosts pinched
The sleeping seed
And the forest path led
On and on through barren dells
And misty slopes fell sheer away
And the dark road had
no ending



The figure variously known as Kyhirraeth, Cyhoeraeth or Cyhyraeth is a banshee-like figure in the Welsh tradition. Here are two accounts of this spirit from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries:

That is a doleful disagreeable sound heard before the deaths of many, and most apt to be heard before foul weather: the voice resembles the groaning of sick persons who are to die; heard at first at a distance, then comes nearer, and at last near at hand; so that it is a three-fold warning of death – the king of terrors. It begins strong and louder than a sick man can make, the second cry is lower, but not less doleful, rather more so; the third yet lower and soft, like the groaning of a sick man, almost spent and dying; so that the person well remembering the voice, and coming to the sick man’s bed who is to die, shall hear his groans exactly alike, which is amazing evidence of the spirit’s foreknowledge. Sometimes when it cries very loud it bears a resemblance of one crying who is troubled with a stitch. If it meets any hindrance in the way it seems to groan louder.
told by Joshua Coslet to Edmund Jones (1702-1793)

There was a peculiar species of ghosts, denominated as Cyhoeraeth, and deemed the most horrible of supernatural beings. The following is a description of it. A being with dishevelled hair, long, black teeth, long lank withered arms; its shriek is described as having such an effect as literally to freeze the blood in the veins of those who heard it, and was never uttered except when the ghost came to a cross road, or went by some water, which (if female) she splashed with her hands making at the same time the most doleful sounds, and exclaiming ‘O! O! fy ngwr, fy ngwr’ (my husband, my husband) or (if male) ‘fy ngwraig, fy ngwraig’ (my wife, my wife) or ‘fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn, fy mhlentyn bach’ (my child, my child, my little child’.
Cambrian Superstitions W, Chetwynd-Hayes (1831)