The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

NOCTURNE


 

NIGHT of Mid-June, in heavy vapours dying,
Like priestly hands thy holy touch is lying
Upon the world’s wide brow;
God-like and grand all nature is commanding
The “peace that passes human understanding;”
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I, also, feel it now.

What matters it to-night, if one life treasure
I covet, is not mine! Am I to measure
The gifts of Heaven’s decree
By my desires? O! life for ever longing
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For some far gift, where many gifts are thronging,
God wills, it may not be.

Am I to learn that longing, lifted higher,
Perhaps will catch the gleam of sacred fire
That shows my cross is gold?
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That underneath this cross—however lowly,
A jewel rests, white, beautiful and holy,
Whose worth can not be told. [Page 85]

Like to a scene I watched one day in wonder:—
A city, great and powerful, lay under
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A sky of grey and gold;
The sun outbreaking in his farewell hour,
Was scattering afar a yellow shower
Of light, that aureoled

With brief hot touch, so marvelous and shining,
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A hundred steeples on the sky out-lining,
Like network threads of fire;
Above them all, with halo far outspreading,
I saw a golden cross in glory heading
A consecrated spire:
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I only saw its gleaming form uplifting,
Against the clouds of grey to seaward drifting,
And yet I surely know
Beneath the seen, a great unseen is resting,
For while the cross that pinnacle is cresting,
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An Altar lies below.

*             *             *             *             *

 
Night of mid-June, so slumberous and tender,
Night of mid-June, transcendent in thy splendour
Thy silent wings enfold
And hush my longing, as at thy desire
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All colour fades from ’round that far off spire,
Except its cross of gold. [Page 86]