Ballads and Lyrics

by Bliss Carman


 

A NORTHERN VIGIL


 

HERE by the gray north sea,
    In the wintry heart of the wild,
Comes the old dream of thee,
    Guendolen, mistress and child.

The heart of the forest grieves

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    In the drift against my door;
A voice is under the eaves,
    A footfall on the floor.

Threshold, mirror and hall,
    Vacant and strangely aware,

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Wait for their soul’s recall
    With the dumb expectant air.

Here when the smouldering west
    Burns down into the sea,
I take no heed of rest

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    And keep the watch for thee.

I sit by the fire and hear
    The restless wind go by,
On the long dirge and drear,
    Under the low bleak sky.

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When day puts out to sea
    And night makes in for land,
There is no lock for thee,
    Each door awaits thy hand!

When night goes over the hill

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    And dawn comes down the dale,
It’s O for the wild sweet will
    That shall no more prevail!

When the zenith moon is round,
    And snow-wraiths gather and run,

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And there is set no bound
    To love beneath the sun,

O wayward will, come near
    The old mad willful way,
The soft mouth at my ear

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    With words too sweet to say!

Come, for the night is cold,
    The ghostly moonlight fills
Hollow and rift and fold
    Of the eerie Ardise hills!

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The windows of my room
    Are dark with bitter frost,
The stillness aches with doom
    Of something loved and lost.

Outside, the great blue star

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    Burns in the ghostland pale,
Where giant Algebar
    Holds on the endless trail.

Come, for the years are long,
    And silence keeps the door,

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Where shapes with the shadows throng
    The firelit chamber floor.

Come, for thy kiss was warm,
    With the red embers’ glare
Across thy folding arm

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    And dark tumultuous hair!

And though thy coming rouse
    The sleep-cry of no bird,
The keepers of the house
    Shall tremble at thy word.

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Come, for the soul is free!
    In all the vast dreamland
There is no lock for the,
    Each door awaits thy hand.

Ah, not in dreams at all,

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    Fleering, perishing, dim,
But thy old self, supple and tall,
    Mistress and child of whim!

The proud imperious guise,
    Impetuous and serene,

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The sad mysterious eyes,
    And dignity of mien!

Yea, wilt thou not return,
    When the late hill-winds veer,
And the bright hill-flowers burn

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    With the reviving year?

When April comes, and the sea
    Sparkles as if it smiled,
Will they restore to me
    My dark Love, empress and child?

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The curtains seem to part;
    A sound is on the stair,
As if at the last . . . I start;
    Only the wind is there.

Lo, now far on the hills

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    The crimson fumes uncurled,
Where the caldron mantles and spills
    Another dawn on the world!