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

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

POETRY


 

EARTH’S godlike dream will never wholly die.
It lingers while we linger, base or true—
A part of all this being. Life may change,
Old customs wither, creeds become as naught,
Like autumn husks in rainwinds; men may kill
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All memory of the greatness of the past,
Kingdoms may melt, republics wane and die,
New dreams arise and shake this jaded world;
But that rare spirit of song will breathe and live
While beauty, sorrow, greatness hold for men
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A kinship with the eternal; until all
The earth holds noble wastes and fades away.
Wrong cannot kill it. Man’s material dream
May scorn its uses, worship baser hope
Of life’s high purpose, build about the world
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A brazen rampart: through it all will come
The iron moan of life’s unresting sea;
And through its floors, as filtered blooms of dawn,
Those flowers of dream will spring, eternal, sweet,
Speaking for God and man; the infinite mystery
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Will ever fold life round; the mighty heart
Of earth’s humanity ceaseless throb and beat
As round this globe the vasty deeps of sky,
And round earth’s shores the wide, encompassing sea.
Outside this rind of hardened human strife
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There lies this mantle of mighty majesty
Thoughts cunning cannot probe, its science plumb.
Earth’s schools of wisdom, in their darkness, spell
The common runes of knowledge; but there lies
A greatness vast behind this taper gleam,
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That stands for somewhat lore hath never weighed
In all its ponderings of thought-pulsing brain.
Shakespeare, the Mighty, touched it as he passed.
The Man in Uz did feel it, shook the folds
Of some great garment’s hem of One who passed
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The vasty gates of Orion at one stride.
All earth’s high souls have felt it in their time,
Have risen to this mighty deep in thought,
Or worshipped in the blackness and the gleam.

Dream not because life’s taper flame grows dim,

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Man’s soul grows wasted gazing on dull gold,
His spirit shrunk with canker of life’s ill,
That earth’s great nights will darken their splendours down,
Her dawns will fail to rise, this mighty world
Will cease to roll its vast appointed way;
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And beauty and love, and all that man holds sweet
For youth and age, the effort glad, the joy,
The memory of old greatness gone before,
Not hold thier magic ‘neath the Almighty Will.

Yea, ‘tis eternal as the wave, the sky,

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Changing for ever, never wholly passing,
A part of all this dream that will not die,
It lives for ever. Years may fade and pass,
Youth’s dream decline to age and death’s decay,
Ills and sharp griefs, despairs and agonies come:
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While earth remains her spirit will not fail.
That greatness back of all will console,
Man’s life will be sweet, its purpose glad,
The morn will still be morning, and the night
Star splendours arched above the eternal peace,
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The eternal yearning, and the eternal dream.