In his solitary cottage
Upon the bleak loch shore,
Sat Donald alone by his fire
As night gathered on the moor.
Waters were cold and grey as slate,
A bitter wind in a rush
Whined in the eves and sadly shushed
Through an old barbed briar bush.
Donald dozed in his chair awhile,
Warmed by the fire’s red glow,
Then, with a start, he was woken
By tapping at his window.
A white moth danced around the panes,
Fluttering against the glass
As if it might clearly give way
And allow the moth to pass.
Fascinated, Donald stood up
And opened the window wide,
The white moth rose from off the sill
Frantically flying inside.
It flew in circles round the room
Through shades of coming night,
But, when Donald lit his oil lamp,
It flew straight towards the light.
The white moth hovered over the flame
Then, swooping directly down,
Frizzled in a flash, but in its stead,
Standing in a pure white gown,
A woman where the scorched remains
Should’ve been of the moth that died,
“Who are you? Donald asked amazed.
“I’m the white moth.” She replied.
“If you marry me I will be
Your love, your mate, your delight
And you shall never be lonely
Either by day or by night.”
Donald became besotted by
Her porcelain complexion,
They married, and he settled down,
A happy, contented man
She only made but one demand,
“Let our one light be the fire,
For should you ever light the lamp
The consequence will be dire.”
Donald gladly heeded her wish,
So his lamp remained unlit,
They’d sit by the fire happily
No matter how dark the night.
Along the loch shore, down the road,
In the village, by the store,
Lived a woman who’d set her heart
On Donald out by the moor.
When she found she had been usurped
By so pale and frail a lass,
The green demon of jealousy
Whispered, “Do not let this pass!”
She’d go to the cottage in darkness
And through the window she’d spy,
Seeing them happy hurt her so
She wanted the lass to die.
She watched one night as, thoughtlessly,
Donald went to light his lamp,
Such was the shrill shriek from his wife
As if some terrible cramp
Had suddenly racked her with pain,
“You mustn’t light the lamp!” she cried.
What she must do became quite clear
To her mean rival outside.
Next evening before Donald returned
The rival knocked at his door
And when the guileless wife answered
She fell feint upon the floor.
“I’ve been taken by giddiness,”
Softly spoke Envy’s daughter,
“Please, for pity, let me come in
And sip a draught of water.”
While Mercy went to her kitchen,
Merciless plotted her doom,
Lighting the lamp she turned it up
So it shone throughout the room.
When the fay wife returned once more
She dropped the cup in her fright,
Though she tried to shield her eyes and turn,
She could not resist the light.
It drew her closer and closer,
She cried out her husband’s name,
Then she stretched out a hand and touched
The very heart of the flame.
At once the lamp guttered and died,
The doomed wife fell to the floor
Where she simply shrivelled away
And became a moth once more.
At that moment Donald appeared,
He watched the frail white moth soar,
Petrified, he just stood and watched
As it flew out through the door,
Into the gathering shadows,
Lurking around the bleak loch,
Soon he had lost all sight of it
And he started from his shock.
Into pitiless night he ran,
His cries so brittle with pain,
Chasing in vain pursuit of her,
Never to be seen again.
The jealous rival stood alone,
In the doorway’s gloaming hush,
Staring through tears at a white moth
Impaled on a briar bush.