The Duke and the Ghost

A second poem written for Hallowe’en, this one according to a story devised by my mother (so, somewhat less full of monsters and people getting eaten).

Once upon a time there was a Duke whom people feared.
He had dark bushy eyebrows and a large and thick black beard.
His eyes were very scary; people trembled just to look,
and if he called their names, they quivered and they shook.

One awful day his mood became particularly foul.
He strode throughout the castle, his face covered by a scowl.
The servants all cried out, “He’s looking very grim today!”
and jumped out of the windows in their haste to get away.

The Duke went down the dungeons – he wanted no company,
but wished to scowl in peace and of annoyances be free.
But then he heard a noise that told him he was not alone –
A hiss, a clinking chain, and then a clattering of bones…

Then from the wall there drifted out a pale white glowing thing,
Shaped like a man, with darkened eyes, and it began to sing:
“I am a ghost, so very scary! Woooo! Now run away!
For I shall do such awful things to you, if you should stay.”

The Duke was very frightened, but he hid it manfully.
“Sir, I do not fear you, and indeed you should fear me!
I am lord of all this castle, this is all my ground!”
“No, this is my dungeon – here no living thing is found.”

The Duke was rather frightened that these halls of darkened stone
contained no life but him, and with this ghost he was alone
and all his many servants were left behind upstairs –
he didn’t want to show it, but right now he felt quite scared.

Then they heard a scratching – the Duke cried, “what is this?”
The ghost looked slightly puzzled. “I do not know,” it hissed.
They heard a clanking of the chains – the Duke shivered in fear.
The ghost looked rather worried. “There should be nothing here!”

There was a noise of click and clack that click-clacked on the stair –
The ghost did sidle backwards, and the Duke clutched at his hair.
A table stood against the wall, which they both ducked below –
And ghost and Duke lay frightened, of this thing they did not know.

They shivered underneath the table. The noise suddenly stopped –
then on the table with a thump, something heavy dropped.
There was a sound of scratching, just above their heads,
And ghost and Duke lay quivering, half-paralysed with dread –

And then it jumped down from the table, and before them sat –
and licked its paws – a very cute and orange-white-striped cat.
And ghost and Duke breathed out, relieved, and solemnly did swear
to never tell to anyone how they’d had such a scare.

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