The White Wampum

by Emily Pauline Johnson


 

SHADOW RIVER

MUSKOKA


 

A STREAM of tender gladness,
Of filmy sun, and opal tinted skies;
Of warm midsummer air that lightly lies
In mystic rings,
Where softly swings
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The music of a thousand wings
That almost tone to sadness.

Midway ’twixt earth and heaven,
A bubble in the pearly air, I seem
To float upon the sapphire floor, a dream
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Of clouds of snow,
Above, below,
Drift with my drifting, dim and slow,
As twilight drifts to even.

The little fern-leaf, bending
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Upon the brink, its green reflection greets,
And kisses soft the shadow that it meets [Page 50]
With touch so fine,
The border line
The keenest vision can’t define;
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So perfect is the blending.

The far, fir trees that cover
The brownish hills with needles green and gold,
The arching elms o’erhead, vinegrown and old,
Repictured are
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Beneath me far,
Where not a ripple moves to mar
Shades underneath, or over.

Mine is the undertone;
The beauty, strength, and power of the land
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Will never stir or bend at my command;
But all the shade
Is marred or made,
If I but dip my paddle blade;
And it is mine alone.
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O! pathless world of seeming!
O! pathless life of mine whose deep ideal
Is more my own than ever was the real.
For others Fame
And Love’s red flame,
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And yellow gold: I only claim
The shadows and the dreaming. [Page 51]