Sagas of Vaster Britain: Poems of the Race, the Empire and the Divinity of Man

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

HOW ONE WINTER CAME IN THE LAKE REGION


 

FOR weeks and weeks the autumn world stood still,
    Clothed in the shadow of a smoky haze;
The fields were dead, the wind had lost its will,
And all the lands were hushed by wood and hill,
    In those grey, withered days.
5

Behind a mist the blear sun rose and set,
    At night the moon would nestle in a cloud;
The fisherman, a ghost, did cast his net;
The lake its shores forgot to chafe and fret,
    And hushed its caverns loud.
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Far in the smoky woods the birds were mute,
    Save that from blackened tree a jay would scream,
Or far in swamps the lizard’s lonesome lute
Would pipe in thirst, or by some gnarled root
    The tree-toad trilled his dream.
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From day to day still hushed the season’s mood,
    The streams stayed in their runnels shrunk and dry;
Suns rose aghast by wave and shore and wood,
And all the world, with ominous silence, stood
    In weird expectancy:
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When one strange night the sun like blood went down,
    Flooding the heavens in a ruddy hue;
Red grew the lake, the sere fields parched and brown,
Red grew the marshes where the creeks stole down,
    But never a wind-breath blew.
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That night I felt the winter in my veins,
    A joyous tremor of the icy glow;
And woke to hear the North’s wild vibrant strains,
While far and wide, by withered woods and plains,
    Fast fell the driving snow.
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