The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

IN THE SHADOWS


 

I AM sailing to the leeward,
Where the current runs to seaward
        Soft and slow.
Where the sleeping river grasses
Brush my paddle as it passes
5
        To and fro.

On the shore the heat is shaking
All the golden sands awaking
        In the cove;
And the quaint sand-piper, winging
10
O’er the shallows, ceases singing
        When I move.

On the water’s idle pillow
Sleeps the overhanging willow,
        Green and cool;
15
Where the rushes lift their burnished
Oval heads from out the tarnished
        Emerald pool. [Page 82]

Where the very silence slumbers,
Water lilies grow in numbers,
20
        Pure and pale;
All the morning they have rested,
Amber crowned, and pearly crested,
        Fair and frail.

Here, impossible romances,
25
Indefinable sweet fancies,
        Cluster round;
But they do not mar the sweetness
Of this still September fleetness
        With a sound.
30

I can scarce discern the meeting
Of the shore an stream retreating,
        So remote;
For the laggard river, dozing,
Only wakes from its reposing
35
        Where I float.

Where the river mists are rising,
All the foliage baptizing
        With their spray;
There the sun gleams far and faintly,
40
With a shadow soft and saintly,
        In its ray.

And the perfume of some burning
Far-off brushwood, ever-turning
        To exhale [Page 83]
45
All its smoky fragrance dying,
In the arms of evening lying,
        Where I sail.

My canoe is growing lazy,
In the atmosphere so hazy,
50
        While I dream;
Half in slumber I am guiding,
Eastward indistinctly gliding
        Down the stream. [Page 84]