The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

THE WERE-WOLVES


 

THEY hasten, still they hasten,
      From the even to the dawn;
And their tired eyes gleam and glis’en
      Under north skies white and wan.
Each panter in the darkness
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      Is a demon-haunted soul,
The shadowy, phantom were-wolves,
      Who circle round the Pole.

Their tongues are crimson flaming,
      Their haunted blue eyes gleam,

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And they strain them to the utmost
      O’er frozen lake and stream;
Their cry one note of agony,
       That is neither yelp nor bark,
These panters of the northern waste,
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      Who hound them to the dark.

You may hear their hurried breathing,
      You may see their fleeting forms,
At the pallid polar midnight,
      When the north is gathering storms;

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When the arctic frosts are flaming,
      And the ice-field thunders roll;
These demon-haunted were-wolves,
      Who circle round the Pole.

They hasten, still they hasten,

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      Across the northern night,
Filled with a frighted madness,
      A horror of the light;
Forever and forever,
      Like leaves before the wind,
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They leave the wan, white gleaming
       Of the dawning far behind.

Their only peace is darkness,
      Their rest to hasten on
Into the heart of midnight,

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      Forever from the dawn.
Across far phantom ice-floes
      The eye of night may mark
These horror-haunted were-wolves
      Who hound them to the dark.
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All through this hideous journey,
      They are the souls of men
Who in the far dark-ages
      Made Europe one black fen.
They fled from courts and convents,
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      And bound their mortal dust
With demon wolfish girdles
      Of human hate and lust.

These who could have been god-like,
      Chose, each a loathsome beast,

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Amid the heart’s foul graveyards,
      On putrid thoughts to feast;
But the great God who made them
      Gave each a human soul,
And so ’mid night forever
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      They circle round the Pole.

A praying for the blackness,
      A longing for the night,
For each is doomed forever
      By a horror of the light;

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And far in the heart of midnight,
      Where their shadowy flight is hurled,
They feel with pain the dawning
      That creeps in round the world.

Under the northern midnight,

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      The white, glint ice upon,
They hasten, still they hasten,
      With their horror of the dawn;
Forever and forever,
      Into the night away
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They hasten, still they hasten
      Unto the judgment day.