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Wandering After Will-O'-The-Wisp | by garlandcannon
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Wandering After Will-O'-The-Wisp

Submitted to Hypothetical Awards Take a Walk on theDark Side Challenge at


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"[A folktale] from Shropshire. . . refers to Will the Smith. Will is a wicked blacksmith who is given a second chance by Saint Peter at the gates to Heaven, but leads such a bad life that he ends up being doomed to wander the Earth. The Devil provides him with a single burning coal with which to warm himself, which he then used to lure foolish travellers into the marshes. . .


In Argentina the will-o'-the-wisp phenomenon is known as Luz Mala (evil light) or Fuego Fatuo and is one of the most important myths in Argentine . . . folklore. This phenomenon is quite feared and . . . consists of an extremely shiny ball of light floating a few inches from the ground. Traditionally is said that "If the light is white, it implies a soul in pain and is recommended to say a prayer, but if the light is red, the witness must flee immediately, thus the phenomenon represents the temptation of Satan.."


In J.R.R Tolkien's work The Lord of the Rings, will o' the wisps are present in the Dead Marshes outside of Mordor. When Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee make their way through the bogs the spindly creature Gollum tells them "not to follow the lights" meaning the will o' the wisps. He tells them that if they do, they will keep the dead company and have little candles of their own.


In literature, Will o' the wisp sometimes has a metaphorical meaning, describing a hope or goal that leads one on but is impossible to reach, or something one finds sinister and confounding." wikipedia


"THE Will-o'-the-Wisp is out on the marsh,

And all alone he goes;

There's not a sight of his glimmering light

From break of day to close;


But all night long, from dusk till dawn,

He drifts where the night wind blows.

The Will-o'-the-Wisp, he has no roof,

Yet he seeks not hut nor hall;

He will not wait for a friendly foot,

But starts if a shadow fall;

And never a voice can make him turn,

But the far off winds that call.


The twilight covers the dreaming hills,

The evening dews begin;

There's none to care that he wanders there,

There's none to call him in;

And all the night, with his lonely light,

He goes where the mists have been.

. . .


The dawn comes over the silent hills,

And calls to the winds of morn;

The stars grow pale, and the sun cries, 'Hail!'

To the shadowy fields forlorn;

And good-bye, good-bye, to the Will-o'-the-Wisp,

Who dies when the day is born!

- - Annie Campbell Huestis


Many thanks to Matthew Raphael Cannon for the original source at


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Taken on February 4, 2011