The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

WINTER


 

OVER these wastes, these endless wastes of white,
     Rounding about far, lonely regions of sky,
Winter the wild-tongued cometh with clamorous might;
     Deep-sounding and surgent, his armies of storm sweep by,
     Wracking the skeleton woods and opens that lie
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Far to the seaward reaches that thunder and moan,
Where barrens and mists and beaches forever are lone.

Morning shrinks closer to night, and nebulous noon
     Hangs, a dull lanthorn, over the windings of snows;
And like a pale beech-leaf fluttering upward, the moon

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     Out of the short day, wakens and blossoms and grows,
     And builds her wan beauty like to the ghost of a rose
Over the soundless silences, shrunken, that dream
Their prisoned deathliness under the gold of her beam.

Wide is the arch of the night, blue spangled with fire,

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     From wizened edge to edge of the shrivelled-up earth,
Where the chords of the dark are as tense as the strings of a lyre
     Strung by the fingers of silence ere sound had birth,
     With far-off, alien echoes of morning and mirth,
That reach the tuned ear of the spirit, beaten upon
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By the soundless tides of the wonder and glory of dawn.

The stars have faded and blurred in the spaces of night,
     And over the snow-fringed edges wakens the morn,
Pallid and heatless, lifting its lustreless light
     Over the skeleton woodlands and stretches forlorn,

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     Touching with pallor the forests, storm-haggard and torn;
Till out of the earth’s edge the winter-god rises acold,
And strikes on the iron of the month with finger of gold.

Then down the whole harp of the morning a vibration rings,
     Thrilling the heart of the dull earth with throbbings and dreams

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Of far-blown odours and music of long-vanished Springs;
     Till the lean, stalled cattle low for the lapping of streams,
     And the clamorous cock, to the south, where his dung-hill
  steams,  
Looks the sun in the eye, and prophesies, hopeful and clear,
The stir in the breast of the wrinkled, bleak rime of the year.
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