Word Cloud: CAILLE (‘Veil’ revisted)


This is a re-post of a Word Cloud from 2016, because it’s October, the month for otherworldly poetry, and things that go bump in the night. 


In Celtic mythology, the Hag is called the Cailleach, the ‘veiled one’ meaning ‘veiled in mystery.’

There’s a caille (veil) between the world of mortals and the ‘otherworld’ of the Aos Sí, also called the Sith or Sidhe, who are not quite like fairies or elves, but embody many of their traits, along with some characteristics of goddesses and gods, in Celtic myth and legend.

‘Halloween’ has evolved from ‘All Hallows’ Eve’ (all holy, all saints), a Christian makeover of  Samhain (Sah-ween), but it is still rooted in the veiled mysteries.  Samhain is the Celtic turning of the year from old to new, when the veil between worlds is thinnest, and all the uncanny – human ghosts as they depart for the otherworld, the Sith, creatures of dream or nightmare – can slip through the mortal world, mingling with us.

Bards have always been fascinated by the ‘otherworld’ and the glimpse through the veil, in the time when all things meet; the fair and foul; the living, the dead, and the immortal. Their songs and stories, rhymes and odes, are meant to make you shiver, hesitating to put out the light as you you cast a wary glance over your your shoulder.


All Souls

by Edith Wharton


A thin moon faints in the sky o’erhead,
And dumb in the churchyard lie the dead.
Walk we not, Sweet, by garden ways,
Where the late rose hangs and the phlox delays,
But forth of the gate and down the road,
Past the church and the yews, to their dim abode.
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.


Fear not that sound like wind in the trees:
It is only their call that comes on the breeze;
Fear not the shudder that seems to pass:
It is only the tread of their feet on the grass;
Fear not the drip of the bough as you stoop:
It is only the touch of their hands that grope —
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can yearn and the dead can smite.


And where should a man bring his sweet to woo
But here, where such hundreds were lovers too?
Where lie the dead lips that thirst to kiss,
The empty hands that their fellows miss,
Where the maid and her lover, from sere to green,
Sleep bed by bed, with the worm between?
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear and the dead have sight.


And now that they rise and walk in the cold,
Let us warm their blood and give youth to the old.
Let them see us and hear us, and say: “Ah, thus
In the prime of the year it went with us!”
Till their lips drawn close, and so long unkist,
Forget they are mist that mingles with mist!
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the dead can burn and the dead can smite.


Till they say, as they hear us — poor dead, poor dead! —
“Just an hour of this, and our age-long bed —
Just a thrill of the old remembered pains
To kindle a flame in our frozen veins,
Just a touch, and a sight, and a floating apart,
As the chill of dawn strikes each phantom heart —
For it’s turn of the year and All Souls’ night,
When the dead can hear, and the dead have sight.”


And where should the living feel alive
But here in this wan white humming hive,
As the moon wastes down, and the dawn turns cold,
And one by one they creep back to the fold?
And where should a man hold his mate and say:
“One more, one more, ere we go their way”?
For the year’s on the turn, and it’s All Souls’ night,
When the living can learn by the churchyard light.


And how should we break faith who have seen
Those dead lips plight with the mist between,
And how forget, who have seen how soon
They lie thus chambered and cold to the moon?
How scorn, how hate, how strive, we too,
Who must do so soon as those others do?
For it’s All Souls’ night, and break of the day,
And behold, with the light the dead are away.





by Mary Coleridge

We were young, we were merry, we were very very wise,
And the door stood open at our feast,
When there passed us a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.

O, still grew the hearts that were beating so fast,
The loudest voice was still.
The jest died away on our lips as they passed,
And the rays of July struck chill.

The cups of red wine turned pale on the board,
The white bread black as soot.
The hound forgot the hand of her lord,
She fell down at his foot.

Low let me lie, where the dead dog lies,
Ere I sit me down again at a feast,
When there passes a woman with the West in her eyes,
And a man with his back to the East.



The Stolen Child

by William Butler Yeats

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,
There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berries
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wave of moonlight glosses
The dim gray sands with light,
Far off by furthest Rosses
We foot it all the night,
Weaving olden dances,
Mingling hands and mingling glances
Till the moon has taken flight;
To and fro we leap
And chase the frothy bubbles,
While the world is full of troubles
And anxious in its sleep.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Where the wandering water gushes
From the hills above Glen-Car,
In pools among the rushes
That scarce could bathe a star,
We seek for slumbering trout
And whispering in their ears
Give them unquiet dreams;
Leaning softly out
From ferns that drop their tears
Over the young streams.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

Away with us he’s going,
The solemn-eyed:
He’ll hear no more the lowing
Of the calves on the warm hillside
Or the kettle on the hob
Sing peace into his breast,
Or see the brown mice bob
Round and round the oatmeal chest.
For he comes, the human child,
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
From a world more full of weeping than he can understand.



On a Night of Snow

by Elizabeth Coatsworth

Cat, if you go outdoors, you must walk in the snow.
You will come back with little white shoes on your feet,
little white shoes of snow that have heels of sleet.
Stay by the fire, my Cat. Lie still, do not go.
See how the flames are leaping and hissing low,
I will bring you a saucer of milk like a marguerite,
so white and so smooth, so spherical and so sweet —
stay with me, Cat. Outdoors the wild winds blow.

Outdoors the wild winds blow, Mistress, and dark is the night,
strange voices cry in the trees, intoning strange lore,
and more than cats move, lit by our eyes’ green light,
on silent feet where the meadow grasses hang hoar —
Mistress, there are portents abroad of magic and might,
and things that are yet to be done. Open the door



The Witch

by Mary Coleridge

I have walked a great while over the snow,
And I am not tall nor strong.
My clothes are wet, and my teeth are set,
And the way was hard and long.
I have wandered over the fruitful earth,
But I never came here before.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

The cutting wind is a cruel foe.
I dare not stand in the blast.
My hands are stone, and my voice a groan,
And the worst of death is past.
I am but a little maiden still,
My little white feet are sore.
Oh, lift me over the threshold, and let me in at the door!

Her voice was the voice that women have,
Who plead for their heart’s desire.
She came – she came – and the quivering flame
Sank and died in the fire.
It never was lit again on my hearth
Since I hurried across the floor,
To lift her over the threshold, and let her in at the door.



The White Owl

by F.J. Patmore

When night is o’er the wood
And moon-scared watch-dogs howl,
Comes froth in search of food
The snowy mystic owl.
His soft, white, ghostly wings
Beat noiselessly the air
Like some lost soul that hopelessly
Is mute in its despair.

But now his hollow note
Rings cheerless through the glade
And o’er the silent moat
He flits from shade to shade.
He hovers, swoops and glides
O’er meadows, moors and streams;
He seems to be some fantasy —
A ghostly bird of dreams.

Why dost thou haunt the night?
Why dost thou love the moon
When other birds delight
To sing their joy at noon?
Art thou then crazed with love,
Or is’t for some fell crime
That thus thou flittest covertly
At this unhallowed time?



“I hear an army charging upon the land”

by James Joyce

I hear an army charging upon the land,
And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees:
Arrogant, in black armour, behind them stand,
Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers.

They cry unto the night their battle-name:
I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter.
They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame,
Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil.

They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair:
They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore.
My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair?
My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone?



The White Goddess

by Robert Graves

All saints revile her, and all sober men
Ruled by the God Apollo’s golden mean –
In scorn of which we sailed to find her
In distant regions likeliest to hold her
Whom we desired above all things to know,
Sister of the mirage and echo.

It was our virtue not to stay,
To go our headstrong and heroic way
Seeking her out at the volcano’s head,
Among pack ice, or where the track had faded
Beyond the cavern of the seven sleepers:
Whose broad white brow was white as any leper’s,
Whose eyes were blue, with rowan-berry lips,
With hair curled honey-coloured to white hips.

The sap of Spring in the young wood a-stir
Will celebrate with green the Mother,
And every song-bird shout awhile for her;
But we are gifted, even in November
Rawest of seasons, with so huge a sense
Of her nakedly worn magnificence
We forget cruelty and past betrayal,
Heedless of where the next bright bolt may fall.




by Ruth Mather Skidmore

I think if I should wait some night in an enchanted forest
With tall dim hemlocks and moss-covered branches,
And quiet, shadowy aisles between the tall blue-lichened trees;
With low shrubs forming grotesque outlines in the moonlight,
And the ground covered with a thick carpet of pine needles
So that my footsteps made no sound, —

They would not be afraid to glide silently from their hiding places
To the white patch of moonlight on the pine needles,
And dance to the moon and the stars and the wind.
Their arms would gleam white in the moonlight
And a thousand dewdrops sparkle in the dimness of their hair;
But I should not dare to look at their wildly beautiful faces.



As Neil Gaiman wrote:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist,
but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

And that applies to all the ‘things that go bump in the night’ too.


The Poems

  • All Souls from Edith Wharton: Selected Poems, American Poets Project (2005)
  • Unwelcome from The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge, Rupert Hart-Davis (1954)
  • The Stolen Child from The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats, Scribner (1996)
  • On a Night of Snow from Night and the Cat by Elizabeth Coatsworth, Macmillan (1950)
  • The Witch from The Collected Poems of Mary Coleridge, Rupert Hart-Davis (1954)
  • The White Owl by F.J. Patmore, found online at: https://poemsofthefantastic.com/the-white-owl/
  • “I hear an army charging upon the land” from James Joyce: Poems and Shorter Stories, Faber & Faber (2001)
  • The White Goddess from The Poems of Robert Graves, Doubleday (1958)
  • Fantasy by Ruth Mather Skidmore, from Poems of Magic and Spells, World Publishing Company (1960)

There is a treasure trove of wonderful spooky poems at the website, Poems of the Fantastic and Macabre. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit there. Kudos to Theodora Gross for her outstanding collection and discerning taste:  https://poemsofthefantastic.com/medieval-era/

The Poets

  • Edith Wharton (1862-1937) – Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist, best remembered for The House of Mirth, Ethan Frome, and The Age of Innocence, but she also published collections of poetry and short stories, and numerous works of non-fiction, including travel journals and critical writings
  •  Mary Coleridge (1861-1907) – British author, known during her lifetime for her novels (The King with Two Faces, The Lady on the Drawingroom Floor) and essays, but ironically today she is better remembered for her poetry, most of which was never published until after her death
  • William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) – Irish poet and playwright, regarded as one of the greatest English-language poets of the 20th century, awarded Nobel Prize for Literature  (1923), co-founder and co-director of the Irish National Theatre Society
  •  Elizabeth Coatsworth (1893-1986) American author, winner of the Newberry Award  (1931) for her children’s classic, The Cat Who Went to Heaven. She published over 90 books of fiction and poetry for adults and children, including the four volumes of  adult fiction, The Incredible Tales
  •  F.J. Patmore – was not able to find any biographical information
  •  James Joyce (1882-1941) – Modernist Irish writer, best known for his landmark novel, Ulysses, initially banned in America and Great Britain as pornographic
  •  Robert Graves (1895-1985) – English novelist, classicist and poet, who produced more than 140 works during his long life. His historical novel, I, Claudius, was made into a highly successful television series by the BBC
  •  Ruth Mather Skidmore (1913-2002) – Apparently, Fantasy was the only writing published by Ruth Mather Skidmore, during her junior year at Vassar


  • Halloween border
  • Head of a Young Woman, circa 1780s – Jean-Baptiste Greuze
  • Italian lovers entombed together – artist unknown
  • The Beguiling of Merlin, 1874 – by Edward Burne-Jones
  • red-haired child (title unknown) – by  Sophie Anderson (1823 – 1903)
  • Boreas, 1903 – by John William Waterhouse
  • Snowy owl photo from http://www.sodahead.com
  • Selene, 1879 – by Jules Louis Machard
  • Nyx – by Pearl White Crow

Word Cloud photo by Larry Cloud

About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for over 50 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband.
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5 Responses to Word Cloud: CAILLE (‘Veil’ revisted)

  1. Sockpuppet says:

    This is delightful, Nona. I missed it the first time you posted it. Happy Autumn October!

  2. This brought to mind an old Scottish folk song. It was transplanted to the Appalachians by early Scottish and Irish settlers to the region, The Long Black Veil.

    The Chieftains, with vocals by Mick Jagger:

  3. wordcloud9 says:

    Thanks Sockpuppet and OS –

    Great version of the Long Black Veil too!

Comments are closed.