Among the Millet

by Archibald Lampman


 

STORM


 

Out of the grey northwest, where many a day gone by
    Ye tugged and howled in your tempestuous grot,
And evermore the huge frost giants lie,
    Your wizard guards in vigilance unforgot,
Out of the grey northwest, for now the bonds are riven,                                5
On wide wings your thongless flight is driven,
    That lulls but resteth not.

And all the grey day long, and all the dense wild night
    Ye wheel and hurry with the sheeted snow,
By cedared waste and many a pine-dark height,                                       10
    Across white rivers frozen fast below;
Over the lonely forests, where the flowers yet sleeping
Turn in their narrow beds with dreams of weeping
    In some remembered woe;

Across the unfenced wide marsh levels, where the dry                              15
    Brown ferns sigh out, and last year’s sedges scold
In some drear language, rustling haggardly
    Their thin dead leaves and dusky hoods of gold;
Across grey beechwoods where the pallid leaves unfalling
In the blind gusts like homeless ghosts are calling                                      20
    With voices cracked and old;

Across the solitary clearings, where the low
    Fierce gusts howl through the blinded woods, and round
The buried shanties all day long the snow
    Sifts and piles up in many a spectral mound;                                          25
Across lone villages in eery wilderness
Whose hidden life no living shape confesses
    Nor any human sound;

Across the serried masses of dim cities, blown
    Full of the snow that ever shifts and swells,                                             30
While far above them all their towers of stone
    Stand and beat back your fierce and tyrannous spells,
And hour by hour send out, like voices torn and broken
Of battling giants that have grandly spoken,
    The veering sound of bells;                                                                       35

So day and night, oh wind, with hiss and moan you fleet,
    Where once long gone on many a green-leafed day
Your gentler brethren wandered with light feet
    And sang with voices soft and sweet as they,
The same blind thought that you with wilder might are speaking,            40
Seeking the same strange thing that you are seeking
    In this your stormier way.

Oh wind, wild-voicèd brother, in your northern cave,
    My spirit also being so beset
With pride and pain, I heard you beat and rave,                                         45
    Grinding your chains with furious howl and fret,
Knowing full well that all earth’s moving things inherit
The same chained might and madness of the spirit,
    That none may quite forget.

You in your cave of snows, we in our narrow girth                                      50
    Of need and sense, forever chafe and pine;
Only in moods of some demonic birth
    Our souls take fire, our flashing wings untwine;
Even like you, mad wind, above our broken prison,
With streaming hair and maddened eyes uprisen,                                     55
    We dream ourselves divine;

Mad moods that come and go in some mysterious way,
    That flash and fall, none knoweth how or why,
Oh wind, our brother, they are yours to-day,
    The stormy joy, the sweeping mastery;                                                   60
Deep in our narrow cells, we hear you, we awaken,
With hands afret and bosoms strangely shaken,
    We answer to your cry.

I most that love you, wind, when you are fierce and free,
    In these dull fetters cannot long remain;                                                  65
Lo, I will rise and break my thongs and flee
    Forth to your drift and beating, till my brain
Even for an hour grow wild in your divine embraces,
And then creep back into mine earthly traces,
    And bind me with my chain.                                                                      70

Nay, wind, I hear you, desperate brother, in your might
    Whistle and howl; I shall not tarry long,
And though the day be blind and fierce, the night
    Be dense and wild, I still am glad and strong
To meet you face to face; through all your gust and drifting                      75
With brow held high, my joyous hands uplifting,
    I cry you song for song.