The Dread Voyage Poems

by William Wilfred Campbell




      SEASON of languorous gold and hazy drouth,
            Of nature’s beauty ripened to the core,
      When over fens far-calling birds wing south,
            Filling the air with lonesome dreams of yore,
            And memories that haunt but come no more;
      Maiden of veilèd eyes and sunny mouth,
Dreaming between hushed heat and frosted lands;
With fire-mists in thine eyes, and red leaves in thy hands.

      Spirit of Autumn, siren of all the year,
            Who dost my soul with glamouries entwine;

       As some old trunk, deep in the forest drear,
            Is gloried by some crimson, clinging vine;
            So thou dost fill my heart with haunted wine,
      When in the still, glad days by uplands sere,
With slow-drawn pace, I seek thy slumberous moods,
In thy hushed, dreamy haunts of fields and skies and woods.

      How often in the still, rich frosted days,
            Down the slow hours of some tranced afternoon,
      Have my feet wandered in a mad, sweet maze,
            Hunting the wind that, like some haunting tune,

            Peopled with memories all the great, gold swoon
      Of rustling woodlands, streams and leafy ways,
Ever eluding, fluting, sweet, before
Fading to rest at last in gold-green leafy core.

      Far out beside some great, hill-cradled stream,

            Winding along in sinuous blue for miles,
      By tented elms, in fields that sleep and dream,
            Low marsh-lands where the warm sun slopes and smiles,
            Where through the haze the harsh grasshopper files
      His rasping note. The pallid asters gleam,
And golden rod flames in the smoky light,
While far, blue fading hills in mists elude my sight.

      Or out in maple woods where companies
            Of sombre trunks lift the soft light between,
      And little sunbeams steal with ruddy eyes,

            Sifting adown the canopies of green;
            Spirit of sadness, here you move unseen
      Down tented avenues where the long light lies
From morn till even, through the silent hours,
Where over all the day frets through in sunny showers.

      On silent nights, grey mists creep near the ground,
            And airs are keen and stars grown sharp and clear,
      And phantom frosts steal in and make no sound
            Down the long, haunted river, bleak and drear,
            Biting with death the sedges dank and sere,
      And ever the wan moon rises large and round
Over the woodlands, flooding with icèd dream
The far-hushed, ghostly face of wood and field and stream.

      On frosty mornings in the crimsoning woods;
            Or where the long, low grassy meadows shine,

      Wimpling and steaming out through hazy moods
            Of dewy glories to the far sky-line;
            And pearly brooks, a company divine,
      Go, softly chattering, under smoky hoods;
I love to walk abroad and con with you
Dream thoughts that are most sad and beautiful and true.