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

by William Wilfred Campbell


 

STELLA FLAMMARUM

(AN ODE TO HALLEY'S COMET)


 

STRANGE wanderer out of the deeps,
    Whence, journeying, come you?
From what far, unsunned sleeps
    Did fate foredoom you,
Returning for ever again,
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    Through the surgings of man,
A flaming, awesome portent of dread
    Down the centuries’ span?

Riddle! from the dark unwrung
    By all the earth’s sages;—

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God fiery torch from His hand outflung,
    To flame through the ages;
Thou Satan of planets eterne,
    ’Mid angry path,
Chained, in circlings vast, to burn
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    Out ancient wrath.

By what dread hand first loosed
    From fires eternal?
With majesties dire infused
    Of force supernal,

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Takest thy headlong way
    O’er the highways of space?
O wonderful, blossoming flower of fear
    On the sky’s far face!

What secret of destiny’s will

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    In thy wild burning?
What portent dire of humanity’s ill
    In thy returning?
Or art thou brand of love
    In masking of bale?
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And bringest thou ever some mystical surcease
    For all who wail?

Perchance, O Visitor dread,
    Thou hast thine appointed
Task, thou bolt of the vast outsped!

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    With God’s anointed,
Performest some endless toil
    In the universe wide,
Feeding or curing some infinite need
    Where the vast worlds ride.
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Once, only once, thy face
    Will I view in this breathing;
Just for a space thy majesty trace
    ’Mid earth’s mad seething;
Ere I go hence to my place,
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    As thou to thy deeps,
Thou flambent core of a universe dread,
    Where all else sleeps.

But thou and man’s spirit are one,
    Thou poet! thou flaming

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Soul of the dauntless sun,
    Past all reclaiming!
One in that red unrest,
    That yearning, that surge,
That mounting surf of the infinite dream,
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    O’er eternity’s verge.