Song at Midnight

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I heard an old gibbet that crowned a bare hill
Creaking a song in the midnight chill;
And I shivered to hear that grisly refrain
That moaned in the night through the fog and the rain.

“Oh, where are the men who came to me
“And danced all night on the gallows tree?
“Gallant and peasant, man and maid,
“Many have walked in that long parade.
“My chains are broken and red with rust,
“My wood is sealed with the moldy crust.
“Have men forgotten their debt to me,
“That they come no more to the gallows tree?”

The drear wind moaned for a dark refrain,
And a raven called in the drifting rain:
“Oh, where are the feasts that awaited me
“Long, long ago on the gibbet tree?”

A slow-worm spoke from the gallows foot:
“Death is spoils for a crow to loot.
“The winds and the rain they worked their will,
“The kites and the ravens have had their fill,
“But last of all when the chains broke free,
“The fruit of the gallows came to me.
“Men and their works, so swiftly past,
“Come to a feast for the worms at last.
“Here I have gnawed on this marrow good,
“Where now I gnaw on this crumbling wood.
“For men and their works are a feast for me—
“The bones, and the noose, and the gallows tree.”

This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was legally published within the United States (or the United Nations Headquarters in New York subject to Section 7 of the United States Headquarters Agreement) before 1964, and copyright was not renewed.

For Class A renewals records (books only) published between 1923 and 1963, check the Stanford University Copyright Renewal Database.
For other renewal records of publications between 1922–1950 see the University of Pennsylvania copyright records scans.
For all records since 1978, search the U.S. Copyright Office records.

The author died in 1936, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.


Works published in 1940 would have had to renew their copyright in either 1967 or 1968, i.e. at least 27 years after it was first published / registered but not later than in the 28th year. As it was not renewed, it entered the public domain on .